IFA is working with the Department of Agriculture, and exporters to progress live export access and contracts to a number of markets.
With Bord Bia forecasting an additional 50,000 to 70,000 head of finished cattle for the second half of 2016, it was never more important for Ireland to secure the reopening of the international trade.
There is an ongoing large live export market for cattle into Egypt. In 2014, Egypt imported $135m worth of live cattle, with Australia, Uruguay and Brazil as main suppliers. In 1999, Ireland exported 90,000 head of live cattle to Egypt.
There are ongoing discussions with exporters about the possibility of reopening live exports to Libya. In the past Libya was a very important market for Irish live cattle taking up to 81,000 head in 1995. In 2013, when the Libyan market reopened to Ireland after an absence of 15 years, Ireland exported 14,542 head and a further 17,667 head in 2014.
A real drive is needed to open the live cattle market to Turkey. In 2015, France exported up to 80,000 head of live cattle to Turkey and currently the market is active but Ireland is unfairly denied access.
There are live export market opportunities for Ireland in other North African markets such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia which need to be actively pursued. In 2014, Morocco imported live cattle to the value of €35m from EU member states. In Algeria live cattle imports amounted to €79.5m and Tunisia imported livestock worth €13m, mainly from France.
IFA believes it is totally unacceptable that processors and retailers are using EU labelling issues to impede the live trade and access to our important markets in Northern Ireland and Britain. This is a key issue in terms of the open and fair operation of the EU single market.