Confirmation that the US will open its doors to lamb from the UK next year has been welcomed by red meat bodies and politicians in Wales.

The deal will open a potential market of over 300 million people to sheep farmers and is estimated to be worth £37m over five years for the farming industry.

The US decision comes after President Biden committed to lift the ban in a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in September and has now been ratified.

“The opening of the US market to British lamb is terrific news for Welsh lamb producers, unlocking new exporting opportunities for farmers across the country," said Welsh Secretary Simon Hart.

“This historic moment for British farming will help cement the outstanding reputation of our food and drink globally and demonstrates the UK Government’s commitment to boosting export opportunities for Welsh produce.”

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) market development manager Rhys Llywelyn said: “Securing access to the US market for lamb has been a priority for the Welsh meat and livestock sector for many years, with HCC and Welsh Government first raising the issue with the American authorities over a decade ago.

“This legislative hurdle has been a crucial barrier to exporting Welsh lamb to the USA. Now that this has been overcome following much hard work, we’re hopeful we can look forward to exporting in 2022; our market research shows that there could be a significant demand for high-quality lamb cuts, particularly on the east coast and especially in the hotel and restaurant sector.”

The move was also welcomed by the National Sheep Association.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed it has amended the rule which currently prevents imports of lamb from the UK into the USA. The amended “small ruminant rule” will come into force on January 3, 2022.

In a call earlier today with his US counterpart Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Environment Secretary George Eustice expressed his delight at the news. The ministers committed to continue to work together in the months ahead.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Today’s great news follows years of negotiations and builds on the success in securing the resumption of UK beef exports to the US. UK lamb is renowned for its high quality, food safety and welfare standards. Millions of US consumers will now be able to enjoy British lamb as early as next year.

“The US market for lamb is growing as consumer trends change and there are now new opportunities for farmers and meat processors in this market."

The small ruminant rule (SRR) previously restricted access to the US market for all sheep meat from the UK, as well as a number of other countries including EU member states and Canada.

This development clears the way for Defra to work with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK food safety authorities, such as the FSA, DAERA and FSS, and counterparts in the USA, in completing the final necessary steps to achieving the full resumption of UK lamb exports to the USA.