UK lamb may soon be available in the US if proposals to eliminate the BSE ban originally imposed in 1989 are given the green light.
A recommendation to eliminate the ban on exports of live sheep, goats and associated products to the USA from countries at risk, including the UK, from Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) was made by APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a draft proposal published on Monday (July 18).
Restrictions may be lifted following a 60-day consultation period. Interested parties can review and comment on the proposal here.
APHIS admitted continued import restrictions due to TSEs put the US in conflict with the consensus of wider scientific thinking.
National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker said: “This sounds incredibly encouraging and just the sort of news the UK needs following our referendum decision to exit the European Union.
"It may only be a consultation at this stage, but the proposal to open the market for sheep products including meat, breeding animals, and genetic material can only be good for both the UK and US sheep industries.”
APHIS considered the impact of increased import over existing sources and concluded ’the imports are expected to be small in comparison to an already large import base’.
APHIS recognised import restrictions detrimentally impacted the US sheep industry by narrowing gene pools.
Projections foresee an additional 1,966 metric tons (MT) of import while depressing US wholesale prices less than 1 per cent and domestic production loss of approximately 615 MT. US domestic consumption is expected to rise by 1,351 MT.
The new recommendations make way for more UK ovine genetics for export to the US.
Brian Larson, former president of the US National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association has imported Lincoln Longwool semen from the UK.
Mr Larson added: “We with heritage breeds such as the Lincoln Longwool that originate in the UK have been anxious for the ability to import embryos for some time.”