Ireland will become the first European Union member to regain access to the U.S. beef market more than 15 years after concerns surfaced regarding transmission of mad cow disease, Ireland's Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine said Monday.
The United States' BSE-forced ban was formally lifted in March 2014, Ireland's ag department noted, a development it had long lobbied for.
At the time, the Department's Minister Simon Coveney said the announcement was a "huge endorsement of Irish beef" and represented an opportunity to expand export markets and sustain the Irish beef sector.
In July, 2014, the U.S. inspected Irish beef production systems to make the final determination that now allows Irish beef imports.
"I am delighted with this confirmation that the U.S. market is now open to Irish beef," Coveney said in a statement on Monday. "This is the culmination of two years of intensive work between my Department and our U.S. counterparts to prove our credentials as a supplier of highest quality premium beef."
Irish authorities may now approve individual beef plants to export to the U.S., approval for which will be based on agreed criteria with U.S. counterparts.
Coveney noted that Ireland plans to fill a U.S. demand for grass-fed beef. Being the first EU country to gain entry into the U.S. market, Coveney added that Ireland also will target Irish-Americans and plans to build a dedicated website aimed at American consumers and buyers that will highlight Irish beef.
According to The Irish Times, Coveney expects to sell about 50-100 million euros worth of beef into the U.S. in 2015.