The news emerged after trade talks between UK environment secretary Elizabeth Truss and US secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Vilsack was said to have promised to study the paperwork rapidly, ahead of agreeing a timetable for inspections of UK beef and lamb plants.
Truss said: “I want to see British burgers, steaks and lamb chops on American tables. Our farmers are a step closer to providing world class beef and lamb to 300 M Americans.”
A 1,000 page dossier was submitted to the US Department of Agriculture that detailed the quality and safety of British beef and Lamb.
At least £500M
The talks coincide with ongoing negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which aimed to liberalise trade between the EU and the US. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimated a TTIP deal could increase the value of UK food and drink exports to the US by at least £500M.
National Farmers Union livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Re-opening the US beef and lamb market to UK imports would be an important confidence building measure for the British livestock sector.
“The US is potentially a huge and affluent market that has strong links to the UK, as we share history and language.”
The pro-Europe environment secretary said the prospect of opening up the US market to beef and lamb highlighted the importance of Britain’s continued EU membership.
“Currently, the EU is by far the biggest market for British beef and lamb, with exports to the EU worth £316M and lamb and mutton worth £291M in 2015.
“The USA is a massive opportunity for British exporters, but we only stand to benefit from these trade negotiations as part of a reformed EU. It is dangerous to take for granted the access we already have to the European market.”
‘Dangerous to take for granted’
Truss’s comments on the importance of Britain’s EU membership followed a report from insolvency firm Begbies Taylor, which warned “the UK’s exporting industries are already under significant financial pressure”.
The report added: “They [food and drink manufacturers] can ill afford any potential risk to the 50% of British exports that go into the EU.”
If UK meat plants received US approval, it would make British beef available to the US’s 300M consumers for the first time since restrictions on beef imports from the EU were lifted in 2014.
TTIP trade talks have been widely criticised for being overly secretive and threatening democracy by pressure groups.
Read the European Commission’s views on the merits of a TTIP deal here.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama warned a UK to US trade deal could take 10 years to negotiate if Britain were to leave the EU.
During his visit to the UK last week, he said: “It could be 10 years from now before we were able to actually get something done.
“It’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the EU, to get a trade agreement done. The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”
Benefits of beef and lamb exports to US
- Worth about £60M
- Access to United States’ 300M consumers
- Restriction on Lamb exports to be lifted in 2017