Northern Ireland lamb returns to US market after rule change

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Northern Ireland lamb is back on the menu in the United States of America from Monday.

Restrictions on UK imports, in place for more than 20 years, were lifted last month.

That came after the US Department of Agriculture amended its Small Ruminant Rule (SRR) to allow trade to recommence.

The US market is expected to be worth about £37m to British exporters in the first five years.

There are about 10,000 sheep flocks in Northern Ireland, encompassing about a million ewes.

They are mainly farmed for their meat, although milk and wool are also produced.

The Ulster Farmers Union described the US change as “quite significant”.

“Sheep farmers will be pleased, every new market is a bonus for them,” deputy president William Irwin said.

“Boris Johnson, the prime minister, met with President Biden back in September, and this was one of his asks at that time, that UK sheep meat be allowed into the US.

“I don’t think anybody thought that the response would have been as quick as this, but everybody’s pleased to have this opportunity.”

Conall Donnelly, the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters’ Association, said it “won’t make an immediate difference”.

 

 

By Louise Cullen / BBC NI

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