Fine Gael Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon, has today (Monday) welcomed the confirmation from Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney that Ireland has secured access to the valuable US Beef market, becoming the first EU member state to achieve this. The news follows a successful inspection by the US authorities of Ireland’s beef production systems in July of last year.

“This is a hugely significant decision for Irish beef farmers.  Beef from the EU has been banned from the US since the BSE controversy over fifteen years ago and this ban was only formally lifted in March 2014. Ireland had been consistently calling for the US to lift its ban and I know this has been a priority for Minister Coveney and his officials who have worked tirelessly with the US Authorities over the past two years to gain access to the large US market for Irish Beef.

“As chairman of Fine Gael’s Internal Agriculture Committee I myself met US Agriculture Secretary Mr Tom Vilsack last Summer when he was in Dublin to discuss the issue.  He recognised that the high demand for Irish beef around the world was an endorsement of its quality and reliability as well as of our production and regulatory systems.

“This US decision now clears the way for the Irish authorities to approve individual beef plants here to export to the US, approval for which will be based on agreed criteria with their US counterparts. The Department of Agriculture has been working with interested Irish plants to assess their readiness and suitability for export for some time and this work will intensify now in order that the trade can formally commence as soon as possible.

“This is a great start to 2015 for the Irish Beef sector and I hope to see meat plants and beef farmers in Kildare benefit from the increased demand.  Our premium beef product is recognised around the world for its quality and we are now in a position to actively market that product to the large and lucrative US market.”