At a meeting between the IFA and the main live exporters in Portlaoise this week, IFA President Joe Healy said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed needs to prioritise the live trade in order to achieve a doubling in export numbers in 2019.
“A strong live export trade is absolutely essential for price competition in the cattle trade and for providing major market outlets, especially for calves and weanlings”.
Joe Healy said the exporters highlighted a number of key issues for the live trade which must be addressed by Minister Creed and the Department of Agriculture. He said maximising ferry and lairage capacity is key to meeting the export supply and demand for calves this year.
The exporters made it very clear that any reduction in the current 29-day assembly period for the live trade would be very damaging to the sector. Joe Healy said, “IFA has made it very clear to Minister Creed that he cannot allow the EU restrict Irish live exports to the EU single market and under no circumstances can he accept any reduction in the 29-day period”.
Joe Healy said the exporters also raised issues regarding access to Turkey and the need to make more progress on our disease status.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said live exports reached 246,000 head in 2018, of which 158,000 were calves. Weanlings and stores made up 64,000 head and adult cattle 24,000.
The main live export market was Spain, taking over 92,000 head followed by the Netherlands at 46,000. Over 24,000 head of weanlings were exported to Italy and 16,600 calves were sent to Belgium.
He said for 2019, Minister Creed needs to be looking at doubling the number of live exports.
IFA Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan said with the existing ferry from Rosslare and the new ferry from Dublin, from March 20th, ferry capacity will be significantly increased this year. “It is essential to increase calf exports in line with the increase in dairy cow numbers, and to optimise lairage capacity by having the ferry sailings on alternate days.”
Joe Healy said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed must continue to strongly support the live trade and insist that there are no restrictions imposed. He said every effort must be made to maximise live export numbers.
In addition, he said it is vital that the live trade continues to operate to the highest animal welfare and health standards.