Lesley Griffiths has welcomed a move by the USA Government to publish consultation proposals on the lifting of import restrictions on lamb from Britain.
The ban on British lamb to the USA has been in place since 1996 following an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The ban was extended in some countries to sheepmeat on the basis that a related sheep disease belongs to the same family of TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathys) diseases.
The current consultation aims to bring USA legislation in line with the world animal health organisation’s position that TSE’s do not pose any risk to human health.
The consultation paves the way for the potential lifting of the ban on the export of Welsh lamb to the USA. It follows prolonged negotiations between UK and Welsh Government ministers and officials with the US Department for Agriculture (USDA). Last week the Cabinet Secretary hosted the USDA’s agricultural counsellor, Stan Phillips at the Royal Welsh Show.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“I wholeheartedly welcome this development which clears the way for the lifting of the ban on the export of Welsh lamb to the USA. We have worked tirelessly in recent years to press home the point to the US Government that our lamb is of an extremely high quality and more importantly, it is safe to humans, a point I reiterated to Stan Phillips just last week at the Royal Welsh Show. We will maintain dialogue on this issue in the weeks and months ahead to ensure a successful outcome to our discussions.
“Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union we must look to negotiate new deals with markets around the world. The USA represents a huge market for us with 300 million potential consumers. This development could lead to a golden opportunity for us to showcase our world class Welsh lamb to a new audience and at the same time provide a major, lucrative boost to the Welsh red meat industry.”