Namibia yesterday became the first African country in history whose sought-after beef qualified for the lucrative export markets of both China and the United States of America. Exports to the USA could start as soon as September, it transpired yesterday.
The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service yesterday confirmed the eligibility of Namibia to export meat products to the United States.
The approval of the Namibian beef industry’s entry to the US market followed mere hours after a Meatco announcement that it is in the process of finalising the trade licence with the regulatory body in China before exports to that Asian country can commence.
The breakthrough comes after the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) initially opposed Namibian beef, basing their objection on the potential risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD) impacts to the US as a result of Namibia’s proximity to FMD-affected regions.
Angola, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa all border Namibia and of these regions, only South Africa and Southern Botswana have been classified as FMD-free without vaccination.
Yesterday, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said it is amending the federal meat inspection regulations to add Namibia to the list of countries eligible to export meat and meat products to the United States.
“FSIS has reviewed Namibia’s laws, regulations, and inspection system as implemented, and has determined that they are equivalent to the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the regulations implementing this statute, and the United States food safety system for meat and meat products.
“Under this final rule, Namibia will only be able to export to the United States boneless (not ground) raw beef products, such as primal cuts, chuck, blade, and beef trimmings, processed in certified Namibian establishments, because FSIS only assessed Namibia’s meat inspection system with respect to these products, a statement by Dr Daniel L. Engeljohn, the assistant administrator in the Office of Policy and Programme Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, confirmed.
Namibia intends to export some 1.9 million pounds (861 825.5 kg) in the first year (after the rule is finalised) and 12.5 million pounds (5.67 million kg) in the 5th year.