British farmers celebrate as British lamb back on American menus for first time in over 20 years

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"With our mission to unlock growth, we will continue to secure more opportunities for our farmers and food producers to benefit from new markets" - Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Ranil Jayawardena MP. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

British lamb producers now have access to a market of over 300 million people as British lamb has now been exported to the USA for the first time in over two decades.

The United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) agreed to open the market for British lamb last year, and following the necessary inspections, the first consignment was flown to the USA this week containing lamb produced by meat processors Dunbia from its site in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

Industry estimates the US-market will be worth £37 million in the first five years of trade, opening up access for British farmers to a market of over 300 million American consumers to enjoy the United Kingdom’s world-renowned lamb, part of the government’s work to boost exports and grow our economy.

The deal agreed last year comes alongside the wider efforts across government to drive growth and open up new opportunities for the British food and farming sector, in turn boosting jobs, skills and productivity across the country. This includes capitalising on new trade freedoms outside the EU through export opportunities, ensuring that premium products are not just enjoyed at home but championed around the world.

Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena said:

Tucking into roast lamb for Sunday lunch is quintessentially British – and now millions of American families will now be able to enjoy our top-quality lamb too.

The opportunity for growth for British food is enormous – bringing jobs, skills and prosperity across the nation. With our mission to unlock growth, we will continue to secure more opportunities for our farmers and food producers to benefit from new markets.

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

Seeing our world-class lamb back on American menus is fantastic news for our farmers. Now they can sell to a consumer market of over 300 million people, which support jobs and growth in a vital British industry.

It also shows our two nations working together to remove barriers and boost trade, building on recent resolutions on steel tariffs, and whisky exports.

Dr Richard Irvine, UK Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, said:

This represents a major achievement for the UK lamb industry. We are proud of our food safety and the quality of food we are able to produce.

Gaining access for the export of British lamb to the USA represents another success for British industry, in addition to the existing agreements enabling beef and pork exports from the UK to the USA.

AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said:

We are delighted to see this first order of UK lamb heading to the US, following years of negotiations and hard work by AHDB, UK government and the wider industry to get our lamb back on American plates after an absence of more than 20 years.

We hope this order will be the first of many, allowing millions of US consumers to enjoy our world-renowned lamb, while bringing a major boost to UK sheep producers and exporters, who have another valuable market in which to sell their products.

This announcement follows a string of export successes in the last two years including the first export of beef to the USA in decades and the first ever export of British pork to Chile.

NFU President Minette Batters said:

It is great news that British farmers producing top quality, sustainable, high-welfare lamb once again have access to the US market, something we’ve been working hard to achieve for over two decades. Expanding into markets such as these will be crucial to maintain the profitability of farm businesses.

Earlier this year I set out our ambition to grow our agri-foods exports by 30% by 2030 and become the number one supplier of choice both at home and abroad. It’s vital we seize opportunities such as these so British food producers can export more Great British food overseas in the years ahead.

Phil Stocker Chief Executive of the National Sheep Association said:

This is fantastic news for the British sheep industry and it comes after many years of hard work, by Government and their departments, by AHDB and devolved nations levy bodies, by NSA, and by the industry operators who have made it happen.

The success of the British sheep industry is underpinned by market opportunities and access to the US will offer just that, building on what is already a healthy demand for our high quality British lamb and sheepmeat here and overseas.

The Small Ruminant Rule that banned British and EU lamb imports for over 20 years was rescinded by the US Government in January of this year.

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