McConalogue meets his US counterpart in Washington DC

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue met his US counterpart Tom Vilsack at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) headquarters in Washington DC, for a wide-ranging discussion.

Minister McConalogue says he was delighted to meet Secretary Vilsack in person for the first time, having engaged with him virtually before now.

Among the issues discussed were the recent agreement on a veterinary health cert, which will allow sheepmeat exports from Ireland to the US, and the difficulties arising for Irish beef exports to the US.

Minister’s Statement in full –

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD, today (Wednesday) met his counterpart, US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack,  in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) headquarters in Washington DC, for a wide-ranging discussion.

Following the meeting, Minister McConalogue said: “I was delighted to meet Secretary Vilsack in-person for the first time, having engaged with him virtually before now. I thanked him for the positive working relationship between our two Departments and our two countries. This is most evident in the recently announced agreement on a veterinary health cert, which will allow sheepmeat exports from Ireland to the US. This is a development I am really excited about.

“I also raised with Secretary Vilsack the difficulties arising for Irish beef exports to the US, which enter under the ‘Other Country’ beef quota, with the 2022 quota already fully filled. Irish beef exports to the US (valued at €36m for 7,000 tonnes) are an important market diversification opportunity, and highly valued by discerning US trade customers.  I expressed the hope to Secretary Vilsack that it will be possible to find a technical solution which would allow quality Irish beef exports to the US to continue without facing very high tariff barriers.

“Over the course of the meeting, I outlined our Food Vision 2030 ambition for Ireland to become a world leader in sustainable food systems over the decade ahead and the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic.

 “I commended Secretary Vilsack for the co-founding of the AIM4Climate initiative; of which Ireland is a member; which sets an ambition to double global investment in climate research for agriculture from €4 billion to €8 billion by the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference  (COP27) in November of this year. I hope that Ireland’s strength in agri-research will contribute to finding solutions to our shared challenge of further driving down the total emissions associated with food production.”

Minister McConalogue later met with White House Ag Advisor, Kelliann Blazek, together with Ireland’s special envoy on food systems, Tom Arnold. Political engagements in Washington DC will continue later today, with Minister McConalogue meeting with key members of the US Senate & House Agriculture Committees.

Minister McConalogue said: “I want to thank the Embassy of Ireland, including Ambassador Mulhall and Ireland’s agricultural attaché Dr Finbar Brown, for their commitment in facilitating these high level political engagements; which again reflect the positive relationship Ireland has with the US administration. The strong engagement by my Department officials with their USDA counterparts is also really important to enhancing mutual understanding and collaboration.”

This evening (Wednesday) the Embassy of Ireland, with Bord Bia, will host a celebration of Irish food and drink; in particular looking forward to the future opportunity for Irish sheepmeat on the US market, now that agreement has been reached on a veterinary health certificate.

Speaking ahead of today’s reception at the Irish embassy in Washington to mark the launch of Bord Bia’s upcoming three year co-funded EU campaign, Tara McCarthy said a key part of promoting Irish lamb stateside will be positioning it as a premium product with high health and nutritional benefits while also highlighting Ireland’s commitment to food safety.  

“Our research shows us that lamb consumption is growing in the US and that consumers, particularly younger consumers, are open to eating more lamb and are willing to pay more for ‘quality’ lamb that is reared ethically and comes from a natural environment,” she said. “With this in mind, Bord Bia’s focus will be on raising the profile of Irish sheepmeat through awareness of it as a premium product sourced from family run farms, and fully traceable from farm to fork. Creating a brand that symbolises Ireland’s heritage, quality and trust or ‘green credentials’ is key.” 

In June, Bord Bia launches the three-year intensive co-funded EU campaign, Working with Nature – European Beef and Lamb, which sees Bord Bia investing €1 million in marketing and promotional seminars, events and promotional activities from 2022 to 2025. Over the course of the three-year campaign, Bord Bia will target more than 350 key trade and decision makers and over 6,000 buyers will be accessible to our meat exporters at international trade shows. Bord Bia will also welcome 15 overseas trade representatives to visit Irish farms and processors.

Minister McConalogue will conclude the Washington DC leg of the trade mission tomorrow (Thursday), opening a seminar co-hosted with the World Bank on the theme: “Sustainable Food Systems: Nourishing the global population, meeting climate targets, and responding to the new context arising from the Ukraine crisis”

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