IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said very good progress has being made in resolving the problems impeding the live export trade to Northern Ireland.
Henry Burns said following work by IFA with processors in Northern Ireland, proposals were put to the Department of Agriculture in the North and Northern Minister Michelle O Neill has now given approval for an Irish brand to be used on cattle exported from the south, fattened in Northern Ireland and subsequently slaughtered in the North.
Henry Burns said this is a significant development and should pave the way for cattle exported from the south to feeders in the North and slaughtered in the North to be branded and sold as Irish, removing any confusion on the origin. He said this beef will be labelled in full compliance with EU regulations specifying that the animals were born in Ireland, reared in the UK and slaughtered in the UK.
Henry Burns said IFA has been working on this issue for a number of months and this is a significant breakthrough in the work to get a solution. He said the processing sector in Northern Ireland are confident that the next step in this process should be lead to a resolution of the issue, which in turn will see an increase in live exports to Northern Ireland.
The IFA Livestock Leader said the live trade to Northern Ireland is hugely important for price competition, particularly for store and weanling producers in the West and border counties. He said with sterling at 79p against the €uro and a significant shortage of cattle in Northern Ireland the potential for this trade over the autumn and into 2015 is very significant. In the past up to with good competition 60,000 to 70,000 cattle have moved North.
Henry Burns said there has been a good increase in live exports to the North in recent week in anticipation of a resolution to this problem and also on the back of sterling and a dry up in numbers in the North. In addition, Henry Burns said the large gap between cattle prices in Northern Ireland and south is pulling more and more finished cattle North for slaughter.