IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said live exports are performing well this year and providing a major boost to cattle farmers.
He said a total of 116,000 head of livestock have already been exported up to May 20th, an increase of 43% on last year. Angus Woods said the benefit of every one of these exports has been reflected in higher and more competitive cattle prices in marts all across the country.
IFA is totally committed to maintaining a strong live export trade, which Angus Woods said is essential for price competition and providing market outlets for livestock. He also welcomed the strong commitment Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has shown to live exports. He said, “It is essential that the Government and the Department of Agriculture have a positive policy towards the live export trade and ensure that it is regulated in a proper and practical way, which maximises its potential and fully protects the trade.”
The IFA Livestock leader said that more than 85,000 calves have been exported this year, mainly male Holstein Friesian, with the main markets being the Netherlands and Spain. He said almost 40,000 head have gone to the Netherlands and a further 36,000 to Spain.
Angus Woods said the IFA campaign early this year, which succeeded in reducing the charges on calf exports by over €1,100 per load, was a major factor in ensuring a strong calf trade this spring. He also acknowledged the support of Minister Creed who reduced the Department of Agriculture charges from €4.80 to €1.20 per calf. He added IFA had worked closely with the Department of Agriculture and exporters in improving welfare and transport conditions for calf exports to the EU.
On international live exports, Angus Woods said it is very encouraging to see designated live export ships regularly loading in Irish ports this spring. He said to date, four loads of cattle have been shipped with many more planned for the summer and into the back end of the year. Three boat loads have been shipped to Turkey and a further boat load to Libya.
Angus Woods said IFA worked hard in getting the Turkish market opened for live exports and it was now very positive to see boats sailing regularly, bringing strong competition to the ring side in marts all across the country. He said at present Purcell Bros., who have a contract for 20,000 cattle to Turkey, have the Atlantic M on the seas with 3,000 bulls on board. Last year, the Co Meath based exported Viastar shipped over 19,000 cattle to Turkey. The Limerick/Kerry based Hallissey group also sent a boat load to Turkey, earlier this year. Supreme Livestock recently sent a boat load of 1,850 bulls to Libya.
The IFA Livestock leader strongly defended the animal welfare aspects of the live export trade. He said all live exports are fully certified by Department of Agriculture veterinary inspectors, who pay particularly attention to animal health and welfare.
In addition, Angus Woods said Teagasc has proved scientifically that there is no adverse effect on the welfare of livestock from the proper transportation of livestock from Ireland to the Middle East.
He cited a major Teagasc study undertaken by Dr Bernadette Early MRCVS on the transport of 120 young bulls during an 11 day journey to the Lebanon. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of sea transport on the physiological, behavioural and performance responses of young bulls. The conclusion of the comprehensive peer reviewed study was that the welfare of young bulls transported by sea journey was not adversely affected.
Angus Woods said IFA is pushing hard for the opening up of the live export trade to Egypt. He said this would be a major boost to the Irish livestock and beef sector. He said IFA has requested the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to lead a trade delegation to Egypt to assist with the reopening of the trade, adding that the Egyptian market is a major importer of live cattle.
The IFA Livestock Leader said IFA has a very strong policy regarding payment for livestock. He said the IFA advice is very clear. Sell you livestock in your local mart where payment is guaranteed. Selling finished cattle to a factory insist on payment on the day.