Speaking at a Bord Bia/Department of Agriculture seminar for live exporters in Tullamore this week, IFA President Joe Healy called for a major national diplomatic initiative to be led by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed to maximise every single market opportunity on live exports in 2017.
The IFA President said, “It is clear that there are real opportunities for Ireland in the live export markets such as Turkey, North Africa and continental Europe and all of these must be actively pursued in 2017.”
Against a background of increased cattle supplies of 100,000 head forecast for 2017 and a continuing increase in calf supplies, Joe Healy said we need to get the capacity of the live trade back up to 300,000 to 400,000 head to drive competition and get a balance back into the beef trade capable of delivering viable prices from the market.
Joe Healy said the live trade needs more support. The charges on the live trade are way too high and IFA is demanding that the fees of up to €8.00 per head charged on calf exports be removed. He said the charges made up of Department of Agriculture inspection (€4.80) and disease levies (€1.27), as well as Bord Bia (€1.90) charges, are way too high relative to the value of the calf. He said it is completely unfair that a calf worth between €80 and €150 per head would have to pay the same level of charge as a finished animal going through a meat plant worth €1,400 per head.
Joe Healy said IFA has been working hard on calf exports for the spring and has met a number of the exporters and the Department of Agriculture in recent weeks. He said a strong live export trade for calves is essential, adding that the current difficulties in exporting to Holland are very unsatisfactory and need to be resolved immediately with the EU Commission. Irish farmers must have access to the EU single market.
Joe Healy said IFA worked hard in opening up the live export trade to Turkey in 2016 and this had proved critical to the weanling trade throughout last autumn. He said it is essential that the trade to Turkey is vibrant again in 2017. Other international live export markets with significant potential include Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.
On boats, Joe Healy said IFA is pushing for more designated boats to be approved for the live trade out of Ireland. He said currently there are four boats cleared to sail and another boat is set to be inspected next week. In addition, there are three more boats lined up for approval and these are essential to service the new and developing live export markets emerging.
The IFA President also called for the restrictions on labelling being used to inhibit and block the vitally important live trade to Northern Ireland and Britain must be resolved. He said it is totally unacceptable that processors and retailers are allowed to stymie a trade by unfairly using EU labelling legislation.
In conclusion, the IFA President said it is vitally important that Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and his Department ensures that a strong live export trade to Turkey and other Middle East and North African destinations continues into 2017.