Chinese suspension: Beef stakeholders look to ‘earliest possible resumption’

News that Irish beef exports to China have been suspended due to a case of atypical BSE earlier this month has prompted a chorus of disappointment from stakeholders in the Irish beef sector.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) have all voiced their reactions to the news, which emerged earlier today, Wednesday, May 27.


Commenting on the announcement of the suspension of beef exports to China, MII said: “This is a very disappointing development but one which we hope will only be a temporary setback.

“It shows the comprehensive and robust controls that are in place in Ireland and this should serve us well in securing the earliest possible resumption of trade with China.

We understand that the Department of Agriculture will get all of the necessary information back to the Chinese authorities without delay and engage with them at the highest level to restore the trade.

“Every market outlet for Irish beef is important, now more than ever, given the market pressures that Covid-19 has brought, particularly across the food service channel,” the MII statement concluded.


ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that he is confident that the details around the case are known and Irish BSE controls are of the highest standard.

McCormack said that China is a hugely important market for Irish beef and it is vital that the agreement set down in the protocol with China is followed and this suspension is lifted as soon as possible so that normal trading can resume.

The fact that an atypical case was picked up in our system actually shows how robust and stringent it is and I think the Chinese will appreciate that as well.

“But the main thing, the overriding consideration, is that the required information is provided to the Chinese authorities and that normal trade resumes as quickly as possible,” McCormack said.


IFA president Tim Cullinan said the suspension of access to the Chinese market is disappointing and that it must be resolved quickly.

“This is a technical issue resulting from the discovery of a case of atypical BSE in a 14-year old cow in this country. Under the protocol, Ireland is required to submit a detailed epidemiological report,” he said.

Given the nature of this case, once the report is reviewed by the Chinese authorities, there should be no delay in regaining access.

“An atypical case does not affect Ireland’s current OIE [World Organisation for Animal Health] controlled risk status or our progress towards negligible risk status,” the president added.

“The Chinese market took 10,000t of Irish beef last year and 2,900t had gone there in the first quarter of 2020.

This is a relatively small amount and accounts for less than 2% of our beef exports.

“However, it’s an important and growing market. We need to get back there as a matter of urgency,” he said.