Prime minister Boris Johnson has indicated that Welsh lamb would be able to be exported again after a 25-year ban.
Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has welcomed the prospect and revealed that the potential market for PGI Welsh Lamb in the US has been estimated to be worth as much as £20m a year within five years of the export restrictions being removed.
HCC said it initially led moves to lift the 25-year-long ban back in 2008. The Welsh red meat body, alongside Welsh government ministers, subsequently raised the issue several times with US officials. More recently, the cross-industry UK Export Certification Partnership has been engaged in technical work to help ensure that the industry was ready to resume exports if the ban should be lifted.
HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells said: “Achieving market access for lamb to the USA has been a long road, and it looks as if we’re nearly at the end of the journey.
“The ban, brought in back in 1996, has not been necessary or justifiable for many years. But it’s taken a long effort and much technical work to overcome the various administrative hurdles.
“There is a promising market for high-quality Welsh Lamb in the USA, particularly in the hotel and restaurant trade on the east coast. Research has shown that the trade could be worth £20m a year for the sector if we are able to achieve access and work on developing the market.
“Lifting this ban would be good news for Welsh sheep farmers and processors. We look forward to hearing the details behind today’s announcement and are ready to grasp the opportunity should it arise.”
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said: “We have been working with UK government for a number of years to see our lamb back in the US – a move which AHDB estimates to be worth £37m in the first five years of trade. This would be a fantastic boost for the sheep sector and we look forward to seeing the detail in the coming days.”