MII welcomes progress on lamb access ahead of mission to USA

April 26, 2022

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) today welcomed the progress made on access to the US market for Irish lamb, but has warned that action is needed to address quota barriers to beef exports.

The lamb import market in the US is over 160,000 tonnes and is currently dominated by imports from Australia and New Zealand. Last year, Ireland’s beef exports to the US were valued at €36m, but unless the import quota roadblock is resolved this will not be repeated in 2022.

Irish lamb should now be on shelves in the coming months once the final stages of completing access requirements are completed. Irish lamb processors are currently working with the authorities to have facilities approved, following Sunday’s announcement by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD of an agreement on a sheepmeat export health certificate for the US. 

A key concern MII is raising on the trip relates to the disruption of Irish beef exports to the US due to the import market being swamped by Brazilian beef. Due to the return of Brazilian beef in the US market, the import quota that importers of Irish beef use, which would normally fill up towards the end of each year was completely filled by early April this year. This now presents a major difficulty for Irish beef to enter the US market competitively. 

Outside of the quota, our beef faces an import duty of 26.4% which effectively blocks trade into a beef import market of over 1m tonnes. 

MII will meet Minister McConalogue on this issue ahead of his meetings with US authorities. MII has already raised this with the EU Commission in Brussels and will be meeting later this week with EU Commission representatives in Washington.

Cormac Healy, Senior Director at MII said: “The progress on lamb exports is very welcome and provides an excellent opportunity to diversify and maximise export market options for Irish lamb. I hope to see high quality grass fed Irish lamb available to US consumers as quickly as possible, and I’m confident it can compete well in a growing market.

“We are calling on the Irish Government and the EU Commission to work with the US authorities to find an early solution on the beef quota issue. The return of Brazilian beef exports to the US market has swallowed up the available quota for Irish beef and means that from April onwards Irish beef sales into the US market face a 26% import duty, which is clearly prohibitive to trade.” 

MII is participating in the week-long trade mission to the US and Mexico led Minister McConalogue TD and Minister of State, Martin Heydon TD.