After nearly 16 years, European beef will once again be making the trip across the Atlantic to American stores and restaurants. Ireland and its beef industry have become the first from Europe to be granted permission into the United States market, following over a decade long ban on beef from Europe. The ban resulted from the mad cow disease outbreak in the 1990s, and fears that it could begin an epidemic in the United States. The lifting of the ban could be a big help to Irish farmers, as well as the possible reopening of the United States market to all European cattle farmers.
The effects for Irish farmers could be fairly significant, as the United States is one of the world’s largest consumers of beef. The United States market has also seen an increase in demand for grass-fed cattle in recent years, something that Ireland specializes in. With a focus on its natural beef, along with marketing campaigns aimed at Irish-Americans, farmers in Ireland hope that they can gain a foothold in the United States market before any other European countries gain approval. If the Irish beef producers can find success, they also hope to expand exports to other countries, such as China and Japan.
European Union officials were happy with the announcement, although they hope that the United States will soon approve beef imports for all EU member countries. Although the ban on EU beef imports was lifted in March 2014, European countries still need US approval following inspections of the cattle facilities. The beef ban shows the important part that trust plays in international trade, especially in the food industry. Issues pertaining to the food industry have been a sticking point in trade negotiations between the US and EU, and Ireland’s beef approval could be a step in the right direction for the ongoing trade discussions between these world superpowers.