First foot in America's door
The Scottish Government has taken the first step on the road to opening the US market to Scottish beef, lamb, venison and haggis exports today.
An application has been forwarded by the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer on Scotland's behalf to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), outlining the case for importing quality Scottish red meat and red meat products into the USA.
Welcoming the move, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Exports to the USA are of key importance to our food and drink sector and this is a positive step forward in reintroducing red meat back into the crucial American market.
"Although there is a long way to go in the process, we remain proactive in encouraging the USDA to lift the longstanding ban on importation of red meat and red meat products from Scotland and the rest of the EU. We will continue to pursue this issue for the benefit of our red meat industry."
Jo Macsween Director of Macsween, one of Scotland's best-known haggis makers, said:
"This is good news. I am delighted to hear progress is being made in this respect and we look forward to the prospect of sharing Macsween haggis with American consumers in the near future."
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said:
"Work to reopen Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb exports in markets outside Europe has to be welcomed. With the huge popularity in the US of all things Scottish, hopefully these negotiations will one day give American consumers the chance to finally taste authentic, high-quality Scotch Beef and Lamb."
The next steps will be for the USDA to approve the application and the European Commission to continue its ongoing dialogue with the USDA achieve a relaxation of import controls.
The application outlines food safety controls in place for red meat production in Scotland.
There has been a ban on exporting red meat from the UK into the USA since the BSE outbreak of the 1980s, which was subsequently extended to include the rest of the EU in the 1990s.
The US also bans the sale of any food products that contain either domestic or imported livestock lungs, which is an additional constraint for Scottish haggis manufacturers. This ban was first introduced in 1970s on public health grounds and still remains in place.