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Written Answers - Beef Exports

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 493.  Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the progress being made in relation to the reopening of the US market to Irish beef; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16069/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I recently welcomed the publication by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) of their draft BSE Rule, which essentially proposes to align US BSE rules with those of the World Organisation for [910]Animal Health (OIE), the internationally-recognised forum for developing and setting guidelines and standards relating to animal health and trade in animal products. This would mean that the US would base its beef import policy for a particular country on that country’s BSE risk classification as determined by the OIE’s risk evaluation. At present, Ireland, like most other EU member states has the same ‘controlled risk’ status for BSE as the USA and Canada. This is an important first step in a process which should allow for the resumption in Irish and EU beef exports to the US.

The publication of the draft BSE rule on 16 March marks the start of a public consultation period that is scheduled to end on 15 May, but may be extended depending on the volume of submissions received. The outcome of the consultation process remains to be seen but I understand that the European Commission is examining the US proposal with a view to making a submission to the American authorities following consultations with interested parties. I will seek to ensure that the content of any submission takes proper account of Irish interests. Regaining access to the US would I believe open up an important niche market for high-quality, grass-fed Irish beef. I will continue to closely monitor developments in relation to this issue and am hopeful that, as a result of the latest and welcome shift in the US position, we are gradually moving closer to bringing the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. I will be visiting the US in May and I look forward to raising this important issue with my counterpart there during that visit.

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