Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (20)

Joe Carey


20. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which live exports have performed in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5720/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Live exports are a critical part of the infrastructure of our livestock industry. They play a significant role in stimulating price competition and provide an alternative market outlet for farmers. My Department facilitates this trade, recognising its critical importance to the agri sector, while ensuring that live animal exports meet the highest welfare standards.

Live exports of cattle increased by 30% over 2017, to 246,000 head. This change was driven by a significant increase in exports to other EU countries. Calf exports increased significantly. In 2017 I reduced the veterinary inspection fee payable on live exports of calves under 3 months of age from €4.80 to €1.20 - this has brought greater equity to the inspection fee regime. Calf exports to Spain increased by 66%, to over 72,500 head in 2018. Exports of Irish calves to Italy and the Netherlands also increased last year, to over 12,500 and 48,500 head, respectively. Calf exports to Belgium and France increased from 4,200 to 13,000 head and from 2,500 to 8,500 head, from 2017 to 2018 respectively. Exports to third countries decreased in 2018 – due in part to currency fluctuations in the Turkish Lira. Nevertheless, nearly 13,000 head of cattle were exported to Turkey last year.

In the first three weeks of this year live exports came to 3,500, up from 1,400 in the same period in 2018. Northern Ireland and Spain have been the largest markets for live exports so far in 2019, with 1,200 and 1,600 head of cattle, respectively.

My Department continues to engage with third countries and to seek out new markets for live exports. New health certs for the export of cattle to Libya were agreed in November 2018, which increase the range of cattle that can be exported there. My Department is engaged with Egypt to secure the finalisation of agreement on three proposed health certs for the export of fattening, slaughter and breeding cattle.