Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (29)

Peter Burke


29. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the recent progress in the development of live export markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5711/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In 2018 live exports of cattle increased by over 30% to 246,000 head compared to the previous year.

My Department continues to seek out new markets for live exports and to facilitate this trade by reaching agreement on health certification.

In November my Department reached agreement with Libya on a new veterinary health certificate for the export of breeding cattle, and an amended veterinary certificate for the export of fattening and slaughter cattle. Having an agreed health cert for breeding cattle provides much more clarity for exporters, as previously exports of breeding cattle to Libya had to be agreed on a load by load basis. The age of cattle that can be exported to Libya increased, from 24 to 30 months – this increases opportunities for exporters to export a wider range of cattle.

In January, my Department reached agreement with Qatar on a health cert for the export of sheep for slaughter.

I have extended an invitation to my Algerian counterpart to visit Ireland in early 2019. This follows earlier contact with Algeria, to try and reach agreement on revised and separate slaughter, fattening and breeding certs.

In relation to Egypt, the Chief Veterinary Officer recently wrote to his counterpart seeking agreement on three proposed health certificates for the export of fattening, slaughter and breeding cattle.

It may be recalled that in 2017, I reduced the veterinary inspection fee payable on live exports of calves less than three months of age to €1.20 per animal. This brought greater equity in the fees payable for calves, weanlings and adult cattle and gave an important boost to the trade. Since then we have continued to see significant growth in the exports of calves, rising from 102,000 in 2017 to 159,000 in 2018 - an increase of 56%. In the same period the total live exports of cattle increased by over 30% to 246,000 head compared to 2017.

Despite these many positive developments for live export markets, I am also well aware of the challenges faced by the sector, including transport capacity and lairage capacity at Cherbourg. My Department officials visited Cherbourg in September last year to discuss the capacity issue with French officials and local lairage owners. My officials continue to meet with ferry companies to explore new routes to continental Europe or the potential for carrying livestock on existing routes, and to ensure that the greatest facilitation possible is afforded to livestock exporters in the important Spring period. The pending approval of a new ferry will contribute to addressing capacity issues.