Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) said that if exports were opened up, it could be worth £20 million a year to the Welsh meat industry.
HCC carried out a diplomatic mission to the USA in January, led by the Welsh Government’s minister for natural resources and food Alun Davies. The organisation said it had received an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the January trip after a series of meetings with leading officials from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other organisations.
HCC market development manager Laura Pickup said: “This week’s visit by Mr Paterson will reinforce the message that we delivered earlier this year. The potential rewards for Wales are enormous because HCC estimates that PGI Welsh Lamb exports to the USA could be worth £20m a year to our farmers and processing companies.”
HCC is hoping that restrictions on PGI Welsh Lamb exports will be lifted as part of the EU-US trade deal currently being negotiated. Alan Morris, HCC communications manager, said: “The ban was over transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSEs), but research has been undertaken by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) which shows that scrapie (caused by TSEs) is present in some sheep but not all, and there’s no risk to human health. Because of this extensive research, it looks like the Americans are changing their mind.”
HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells, speaking about the diplomatic mission in January, said: “During our meetings the USDA accepted the OIE’s evidence that TSEs do not pose any risk to human health.”
Pickup said Welsh Lamb was already a success in the USA’s neighbouring country, Canada, where it has been on sale for the past two years: “There is a clear demand for high-quality grass-fed lamb for both the high-end retail and the hotel, retail and catering sector in Canada. While our exports have focused primarily on Eastern Canada until now, research into demand on the west coast of the country will be carried out to further grow exports to the country.”