Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon, has this week welcomed the announcement that China has now lifted its ban on Irish Beef.  This follows confirmation in recent weeks that Irish Beef can now also be sold in the US for the first time in more than 15 years.

“I am delighted at this further positive announcement for Irish Beef Farmers which comes after intensive political, technical and diplomatic engagement with the Chinese Authorities over several years.   The trade mission to China last year led by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was a major breakthrough and helped to pave the way for this weeks announcement.

“Following that trip the Chinese authorities agreed to send a veterinary inspection team to Ireland.  This inspection happened last December and the Irish food safety control system passed with flying colours.

“China is a huge growing market with the value of agri-food exports from Ireland to China, including Hong Kong, amounting to almost €620 million last year, an increase of almost two and a half times the level of exports in 2011. Increasing demand for beef in China means there is great potential for high quality steak cuts and for traceable manufacturing beef for the expanding fast food sector.  Lifting the ban will help Irish operators and farmers to get a share of that growing and lucrative market.

““The next steps are to determine which cuts can be exported, along with the agreement of a veterinary certificate. This will be followed by a Chinese veterinary inspection to approve individual processing plants for export. Minister Coveney and his Department will be continuing its technical engagement with the Chinese authorities to ensure that this process is concluded as soon as possible.

“This announcement proves that our agri-food products and systems are among the best in the world and will continue to be a lead driver in our recovery, bringing increased economic activity to rural Ireland.