Irish beef exports to the US could be worth up to €100 million in 2015, according to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

Speaking on Morning Ireland today the Minister said that the US has the potential to become a mainstream market for Irish beef over the years.

“This is because American beef prices now surpass those paid in the EU,” he said.

“Prior to the introduction of the BSE-related import ban, the US had only been a niche outlet for our beef. This was because the prices available at that time were well below the EU average. This is no longer the case.

“The US beef herd has been in decline for the past number of years. And, as a consequence, redmeat prices have risen accordingly. Last year, the US imported 1.2 million tonnes of beef, valued at €4 billion. What’s more, there is a growing demand for grass-fed beef in that market. And, obviously, this is an opportunity that we are well placed to capitalise on.”

Coveney went on to point out that Irish meat plants had spent a lot of time over the past twelve months, preparing for the decision that had been made by the US administration last Thursday.

“I will be accompanying a Bord Bia deputation to the US next month. This will kick start a major marketing campaign on behalf of the Irish beef sector,” he said.

The Minister also confirmed that it could take some time for other EU Member States to secure the required clearances, which would allow them put beef on to the American market.

“The fact that we are ahead of the pack provides us with a unique opportunity to secure the best possible trade deals with US importers,” he commented.

“And, of course all of this is good news for Irish beef farmers. Farmgate returns have risen consistently over the past number of weeks. And the opportunities which the US market should present during the period ahead will help to further boost farmer optimism for the future.”