USDA confirmed in mid-May that the first shipment of U.S. beef recently arrived in South Africa following the reopening of the South African market earlier this year.
“The arrival of U.S. beef in South Africa represents another important milestone in efforts by USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to regain access to this important market,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“Along with U.S. poultry, South African consumers now have access to high quality, safe and wholesome U.S. beef, and U.S. producers and exporters have gained another valuable market for their products.”
In January, after more than two years of intense discussions, the United States and the Republic of South Africa concluded an agreement on sanitary barriers and related health certificates for U.S. beef, pork and poultry products exported to South Africa.
The South African market had previously been closed to U.S. poultry since 2000, beef since 2003 and pork since 2013.
With the removal of the barriers, U.S. exports of meat to South Africa could reach $75 million annually.
The United States began shipping poultry to South Africa earlier this year under the terms of the agreement. As a result, U.S. poultry exports to South Africa totaled almost 12,000 metric tons, worth $7.2 million, in the first quarter of 2016.
USDA says the Obama administration has worked to expand markets for American-made goods, including agricultural products.
Six of the past seven years have represented the strongest period for American agricultural exports in the history of the country, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $919.6 billion between fiscal 2009 and 2015, USDA reports.
In fiscal 2015, American farmers and ranchers exported $139.7 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide.
U.S. agricultural exports, USDA says, supported more than 1 million American jobs both on and off the farm, a substantial part of the estimated 11.7 million jobs supported by exports all across the country.
Additionally, the Obama administration has concluded negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that will help expand U.S. agricultural exports to some of the fastest growing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and will now work with Congress to secure its passage into law.
Last year, USDA engaged trading partners to eliminate all remaining animal health barriers related to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) for U.S. export markets. Fourteen countries removed all BSE restrictions and granted access to U.S. beef and beef products, including Australia, Macau, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore, Ukraine, Vietnam, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Costa Rica, Guatemala, St. Lucia and Iraq.
The total value of U.S. beef and beef products exported to the 14 countries that lifted their BSE restrictions is in excess of $180 million.