Opening of US market to Irish beef welcome


East Galway TD Paul Connaughton today welcomed the opening of the US market to Irish beef, saying this is particularly good news for weanling producers of Limousin, Belgian Blue and Charolais cattle.
‘It is hoped that that the US market will open for Irish beef in the next few months and it is anticipated that by the year end, fifteen hundred to two thousand tonnes of beef could enter the American market. This is great news for continental weanling producers of Limousin, Belgian Blue and Charolais stock. This is a premium market looking for premium product.
‘Ireland is the first European country to access the US market and I hope that we can build on this and double the quantity of beef going into the American market. At the moment there is no sign of an increase in cattle numbers in the US, so there will be a continued need for Irish beef into the future.
‘The new US contract for Irish beef will bring great relief to farmers who feed top quality continental livestock. It appears that the silly age restrictions that farmers had to put up with over the years may not be as great an issue with the US authorities, which could dramatically change the profitability for finishing cattle. It is felt that cattle over 30 months of age will not be penalised, subject of course to they being top quality meat.
‘At the other end of the spectrum, it is envisaged that the new American contract will use quite large quantities of meat for processing for convenience foods and this should surely be a help to provide a floor price for lesser quality cattle. I understand that the US authorities were very impressed with the meat factories they visited and equally so with the cattle identification system which we have in this country. However, what impressed the US inspectors most of all was the method by which Irish farmers produce grass-fed cattle and it would appear that they regard us as world leaders in this regard. I hope that the US contract will take sufficient volumes of meat to create more competition for the available cattle as this is the only way that farmers can be sure that they will get a return for their labour.
‘I would also like to commend the great work carried out by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney over the past two years to achieve this. It is significant that Ireland is the first country to achieve this access and being first into the market should give us a competitive advantage and I will be urging Bord Bia to sell this product as extensively as possible into the American market.’