Russia banned the import of British beef and lamb in 1996 following concerns about the cattle disease BSE

Russia banned the import of British beef and lamb in 1996 following concerns about the cattle disease BSE

Russian authorities have lifted a 16-year ban on British beef and lamb imports, a decision the UK government claims could provide a GBP80m boost to the UK meat industry.

Moscow banned the import of British beef and lamb in 1996 following concerns about the cattle disease Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). A worldwide ban on British live cattle, meat and products was lifted by the EU in 2006. However, Russia kept the ban in place amid fears over the threat of BSE.

The UK government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said at the weekend it expects official written confirmation, and full details of the deal, from Russian officials within the next few days.

"British food is recognised around the world for using quality ingredients, for rigorous production standards, and for reliable traceability," said Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

"This deal is further evidence of international confidence in what British producers have to offer. Our food exports are booming, recently topping GBP18bn a year, and this Government is doing all it can to open up markets abroad."

The landmark agreement could potentially be worth GBP80m to the British industry over the next three years, Defra said.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) welcomed the deal and said it is "a massive boost" for the industry.

"Russia is one of the largest global importers of beef and although there will still be a lot of work to do, the potential demand for our beef is huge," said NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. "The work of our levy bodies and government departments in continuing to open up these export markets is vital and will go a long way towards ensuring a competitive and sustainable beef and lamb industry."

In May, the UK agreed a deal said to be worth GBP50m to export pork to China.

Last week, just-food interviewed Paterson on the Government's vision for the country's exports.