Written Answers. - Lamb Imports.

Ivan Yates

Question:

440 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has satisfied himself that the proper procedure in relation to the presentation of documentation is in place in relation to the import of lambs from Northern Ireland which are of Scottish or United Kingdom origin; if his attention has been drawn to the recent protests at meat plants in this regard; if his Department or Bord Bia statistics indicated a surge in such imports from Northern Ireland in excess of lamb numbers there which would verify these allegations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2019/99]

The position as regards lamb imports is that as a member of the European Union, Ireland is part of a free trade area in which it is not possible to legally prohibit, restrict or inhibit the trade of lambs from another member state. In general imported animals must be accompanied by appropriate health certification, but under bilateral arrangements, lambs going to and from Northern Ireland do not require such certification.

All sheep presented for slaughter at export approved plants are subjected to supervision and control by the Department's staff. The veterinary inspectorate at these plants is aware of its responsibilities in this regard and of the legal requirements regarding the status of these animals. Department statistics, based on a comparison of supply and slaughter of lambs in 1998, would not support the view that significant imports of lambs from outside the island are taking place.

I am aware that sheep farmers have protested outside certain meat plants on the issue of imported lambs.