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LONDON: Britain’s first beef exports to the United States in more than 20 years left Northern Ireland on Wednesday, six months after Washington lifted a ban, the government said.

“This is great news for our food and farming industry, who have estimated it will bring a £66 million ($85 million, 72 million euros) boost to beef producers over the next five years alone,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

Washington imposed restrictions on all EU beef exports in 1998 due to concerns about mad cow disease but has gradually eased them as it tries to negotiate a free trade deal with Brussels.

It has permitted Irish beef imports since 2015 and granted the Netherlands approval to renew its exports the following year. Britain, which left the European Union on January 31 after the 2016 Brexit vote, received permission to restart its transatlantic beef shipments in March.