The “hope” of Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue for Irish beef to be granted access to the US market outside of the current "other country" route was discussed with a meeting with the US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The other country quota has been filled for 2022, leaving Irish beef effectively locked out of the US market until next year.
The Minister stated that the announcement that Irish sheepmeat will be granted access to US shelves was evidence of the constructive relationship between his Department and Secretary Vilsack’s.
“I was delighted to meet Secretary Vilsack in-person for the first time, having engaged with him virtually before now,” said Minister McConalogue.
“This is most evident in the recently announced agreement on a veterinary health cert, which will allow sheepmeat exports from Ireland to the US. This is a development I am really excited about.
“I also raised with Secretary Vilsack the difficulties arising for Irish beef exports to the US, which enter under the other country beef quota, with the 2022 quota already fully filled.
“I expressed the hope to Secretary Vilsack that it will be possible to find a technical solution which would allow quality Irish beef exports to the US to continue without facing very high tariff barriers,” he said.
The Minister gave Secretary Vilsack an overview of Irish agriculture’s work to improve farm sustainability.
He also commended his US counterpart for his efforts to support research initiatives on climate change and agriculture.
“Over the course of the meeting, I outlined our Food Vision 2030 ambition for Ireland to become a world leader in sustainable food systems over the decade ahead and the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic,” Minister McConalogue added.
Our research shows us that lamb consumption is growing in the US
“I commended Secretary Vilsack for the co-founding of the AIM4Climate initiative - of which Ireland is a member - which sets an ambition to double global investment in climate research for agriculture from €4bn to €8bn by the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in November of this year.
“I hope that Ireland’s strength in agri research will contribute to finding solutions to our shared challenge of further driving down the total emissions associated with food production,” said Minister McConalogue.
Minister McConalogue also met with White House ag adviser Kelliann Blazek, along with Ireland’s special envoy on food systems Tom Arnold.
“I want to thank the Embassy of Ireland, including Ambassador Mulhall and Ireland’s agricultural attaché Dr Finbar Brown, for their commitment in facilitating these high-level political engagements, which again reflect the positive relationship Ireland has with the US administration,” he said.
“The strong engagement by my Department officials with their USDA counterparts is also really important to enhancing mutual understanding and collaboration,” he concluded.
Bord Bia’s Tara McCarthy commented that the promotional body believed that the US would be an attractive market for Irish sheepmeat, given the country’s consumption trends.
She stated that emphasising the quality of Irish meat and reminding consumers of the food safety credentials of Irish produce would be key to promotions.
“Our research shows us that lamb consumption is growing in the US and that consumers, particularly younger consumers, are open to eating more lamb and are willing to pay more for ‘quality’ lamb that is reared ethically and comes from a natural environment,” observed McCarthy.
“With this in mind, Bord Bia’s focus will be on raising the profile of Irish sheepmeat through awareness of it as a premium product sourced from family-run farms and [is] fully traceable from farm to fork. Creating a brand that symbolises Ireland’s heritage, quality and trust or ‘green credentials’ is key,” she said.