Last year the US came second on the list of Irish food imports, only losing out to the UK. This equates to just over €1billion last year alone.
The top imported produce from Ireland was Beverages (€521million), Dairy(€172million), and Edible products(€153million). The US are currently the fifth largest importer of Irish dairy
This makes the trade mission currently underway of the vital importance to our future economy post Brexit.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., kicked off his trade mission to the United States yesterday with a number of meetings on Capitol Hill.
He held meetings with leading figures such as Ray Starling, Special Assistant to the US President on Agriculture and Trade, and with senior officials in the US Department of Agriculture and the US Trade Representation.
Minister Creed put the focus of these meetings on Irish agri-food trade with the United States and on the further development of EU/US trade in these sectors.
Technical meetings were held also by Department of Agriculture officials and officials from the US Food Safety Inspection Service and with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The aim was to discuss trade facilitation and equivalency of food safety standards, while another question that came up was access for Irish sheep meat to the US market.
The Minister stated that the relations built on this trip are of vital importance, adding how pleased he was to build up Irelands good name within the food industry.
He said “With a new administration bedding in to office here in the US, relationships built at political and official level will be critically important in the context of developing commercial opportunity for Irish agri-food companies and for building a closer trading relationship with the US into the future. I was very pleased to be able to build on Ireland’s profile as a producer of quality food and to raise a number of technical issues of importance to future trade development.”
The Minister also spoke of the importance of sheep meat sector and says remains a crucially important part of the Irish agriculture sector. He also added that the market access for Irish sheep meat to the USA is another top priority for this mission.
“We have agreed dates in September for an inspection visit by USDA Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS). We already have beef and pig meat access to the US, I hope that we will be able to progress access for sheep meat. We look forward to working closely with our US colleagues in relation to this visit”.
The Minister also found the time to meet with Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the US Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, as well as the Leadership of the National Farmers Union.
The day’s events came to a close with a Bord Bia reception in the Irish Embassy Residence. This focused on the promotion of Irish beef within the US.