China gives NI farmers go-ahead to export beef
Northern Ireland beef farmers have won approval to start exporting to China - a market estimated to be worth £230m over the next five years.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) yesterday announced the beef industry had received approval from Chinese authorities.
Dr Robert Huey, chief veterinary officer for NI, said: "Receiving final approval for exports to China is excellent news for our local beef sector, a market which is worth an estimated £230m to the UK in the first five years.
"It is a further boost for our local meat exporters, coming on the back of the announcement earlier this year when Japan agreed to accept beef imports."
He said the Chinese had recognised the high standard imposed by Northern Ireland to produce "high-quality, safe and wholesome beef".
"We place a clear emphasis on traceability at the heart of our production and processing and recognise that a safe and efficient food supply is essential."
Ian Stevenson, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Livestock & Meat Commission, said he was delighted that UK beef had now secured full approval.
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According to the latest DAERA agricultural survey, there were 245,100 beef cows in the province in December last year, a fall of 5%.