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For the first time in 20 years, beef from Northern Ireland will soon be available in the USA after two local beef processors were granted access to the US market.

Foyle Food Group (Foyle Campsie) and WD Meats have been listed as meat plants eligible to export meat to the United States. This has the potential to become a lucrative trade for local producers.

Welcoming the approval from the US authorities, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA said: “The decision by the US authorities to grant access to two local beef processors is a significant move and one that I welcome wholeheartedly.

“It is a credit to the excellent quality, traceability, high animal welfare standards and good environmental practices that we see day in and day out across our agriculture sector. We have an excellent product to sell and we can compete with the best in the world. With exports possible next month, it will be the first time in 20 years that US citizens will taste the wonderful beef that our farmers rear with dedication and commitment.”

The Minister continued: “This has of course, been a very challenging year for our farmers, with many experiencing significant financial difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore the decision by the US authorities will be a real boost for our local beef farmers, not just in economic terms, but it will lift the morale of the sector.

“The opening of the US market has been made possible due to the strenuous efforts of DAERA veterinary teams, working closely with Defra and the industry here in Northern Ireland.”

Ian Stevenson, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Livestock & Meat Commission, said: “It is very welcome news that a number of UK establishments including WD Meats Coleraine and Foyle Campsie have now been officially listed by the USA authorities for the export of beef to the USA.

“The USA is one of the largest consumer markets for beef in the world and despite the impact of Covid-19 globally we have seen that exporters in the Republic of Ireland have more than doubled their beef exports to USA in the first 6 months of 2020 worth over €21m.

“It is testament to the hard work of government officials, industry and support bodies across the UK that our industry in Northern Ireland has been given the go ahead to export and can now start to service new customers in the USA with our safe, traceable and excellent quality assured beef and we look forward to seeing this market opportunity develop and grow in the months and years ahead.”