30-month rule necessary for beef exports to China – department

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that the 30-month age rule for slaughtered animals is a necessary condition for exporting frozen, boneless beef products to China.

This follows on from talks between farmer groups, processor representatives and Minister Michael Creed, in which this rule – among others – was a topic for heated debate.

On the department’s market access portal, available on its website, the terms and conditions are outlined as part of the export certificate, in which the rule is included.

Officials from China are expected in Ireland for an inspection visit to Irish meat plants, with a view to opening access for more beef plants, as well as beginning approvals for sheepmeat plants.

Though the department wouldn’t be drawn on when these officials are expected to arrive, AgriLand understands that the inspection visit is due to take place next week.

According to the terms and conditions of the trade certificate, only meat processed in an establishment that has been specifically approved by Chinese authorities can be exported to the Asian country.

The other terms of trade on the department’s website include (but are not limited to):

  • Meat must be derived from animals born, raised and slaughtered in Ireland;
  • Cattle from certain herds will be ineligible for production of beef for China, e.g. where World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) restrictions are in place;
  • Segregation is required between herds that are eligible for China and those that are ineligible.

In a statement, the department said that its “market access priorities for 2019 include advancing further beef plant approvals by the Chinese authorities and beginning the process of market access for sheepmeat”.

The visit by the Chinese inspectors was confirmed back in May, while Minister Creed was on a trade mission to the country.

Announcing the news on his Twitter page, he said: “It was agreed that an inspection visit will take place in August for beef plants awaiting approval, as well as sheepmeat plants seeking approval for export to China.” He added that the decision by the Chinese authorities “represents real progress”.

As of April this year, seven Irish beef processors were cleared to export to China. These are: Liffey Meats; BP Clones; Donegal Meat Processors (Foyle Meats); Slaney Foods International; ABP Nenagh; Kepak Clonee; and Dawn Meats Charleville.