Farming unions have welcomed the news that a long standing ban on importing Welsh lamb into the United States may be lifted soon.

The announcement made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday paves the way for PGI Welsh Lamb to cross the Atlantic for the first time in three decades. 

The US banned British lamb imports in the late 1980s owing to rules around Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow’s disease.

It has been estimated that lifting the ban could provide a boost of up to £20 million a year for the Welsh sheep sector within the first five years of those restrictions being removed.

Speaking from his Carmarthenshire sheep farm, Farmers Union of Wales deputy president Ian Rickman, said: “Now more than ever we need to explore other export markets while also protecting our long established markets in Europe.

“The US market is one we are keen to develop much stronger relationships with and the news that this ban could soon be lifted is most welcome news for our sheep industry.”

With the sector concerned of the long term implications of trade deals being struck with New Zealand and Australia, the news of new export markets is welcome news.

NFU Cymru livestock board chairman Wyn Evans said: “After being shut out of the US market for over 30 years, reports that Welsh sheep farmers may soon be able to access this potentially lucrative marketplace are welcome news for the sector.

“We certainly want to see this ban lifted so that trade can resume as soon as possible.

“Now that this important trade avenue appears to be a step closer to opening, it is vital that the UK Government and the authorities work alongside the whole supply chain so that we are in a position to supply product into the US as soon as the ban is lifted.

“Our levy body, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, will have an important role to play in marketing and promoting our product to the US market so that we can capitalise on this new opportunity.

“Welsh sheep farmers are extremely proud of the high quality, sustainable nutritious and delicious PGI Welsh Lamb we produce and are looking forward to the prospect of being able to put this great-tasting product on the plates of American consumers in the near future.

“We now await with interest to hear more news from the US Secretary of State for Agriculture to confirm the reports that we have received following the Prime Minister’s comments today.”

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