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US set to relax rules on UK lamb imports

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Restrictions on British lamb imports could be lifted by the USA within months,paving the way for a trade worth £35m to British farmers, says Defra minister George Eustice.

Mr Eustice said that the long-running mission to get British lamb chops back on American dinner plates had moved a step closer. He said that proposals published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to relax import restrictions on lamb could generate an extra £35m for the UK economy.

The move was the latest step in ongoing efforts to allow Britain’s farmers to start exporting sheepmeat to the United States’ 300 million consumers.

“The US decision to press ahead with proposals to lift export restrictions on British lamb is great news for our farmers,” said Mr Eustice. In addition to making good trade deals with our European neighbours, Defra wanted to secure more export opportunities with the USA, Commonwealth countries and other nations.

Sheep industry leaders welcomed the news.
National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Increasing the number of export destinations for British sheep meat is vital for our industry.”

Exporting and promoting British lamb could help boost consumption of lamb in the USA, which has fallen off recently. “It could be a real opportunity for our sector,” said Mr Stocker.