Access to US market is victory for British lamb producers

06 December 2021

A leg of roast lamb with cider gravy

UK producers will soon be able to sell their lamb to the US for the first time in twenty years.

British lamb exports to the United States of America will resume in early January after more than two decades.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed it has amended the rule which currently prevents imports of lamb from the UK. The amended 'small ruminant rule' will come into force on 3 January 2022.

Responding to the news, NFU President Minette Batters said: “It’s excellent to hear that the work of the UK government and levy boards has finally helped secure access for British lamb to the United States."

A positive step

British lamb is a fantastic, sustainable product that is recognised around the world for its quality and we know there is demand for it in the US.

Mrs Batters continued: “This is exactly the sort of export opportunity we need to see the government pursuing and is something we strongly support. This is a positive step for Britain’s lamb producers and we would urge the government to continue opening up new markets around the world.”

Final steps

The small ruminant rule (SRR) had restricted access to the US market for all lamb from the UK.

The amendment now makes it possible for Defra to work with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK food safety authorities, such as the FSA, DAERA and FSS, and US counterparts, in taking the final necessary steps to the full resumption of UK lamb exports to the USA.

AHDB estimates that securing access to the US market for UK sheep meat is worth at least £37m over the first five years. Since then the price of lamb has further increased to record highs across the United States, making it all the more important and valuable to gain access as soon as possible.

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