In 2018, total live exports of cattle increased by over 30% compared to 2017, to 246,000 head. This growth trend has continued into 2019, with live exports already totalling 247,000 up until week commencing the 9th September. This is up from 207,000 for the same period in 2018 – a 19% increase. I welcome the recent live cattle shipments to both Turkey and Libya.
Live exports are a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry. They play a significant role in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers. My Department facilitates this trade, recognising its importance to the agri-food sector, while placing a strong emphasis on the welfare of all animals being transported.
I will continue to prioritise efforts to deepen existing markets and gain access to new third country markets. In April, my Department reached agreement with the Egyptian authorities on three proposed health certificates for the export of fattening, slaughter and breeding cattle.
Also in April, agreement was reached in principle with Algeria to move from a joint breeding, slaughter and fattening certificate to three separate certificates. We are awaiting the Algerian authorities’ imprimatur prior to the commencement of the revised trade conditions.
In relation to Turkey, my Department hosted a visit in May by a technical team that included officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and ESK (the Turkish Meat and Milk Board).
A successful live export trade relies on the cooperation of a multitude of stakeholders. Therefore, the recent establishment of the Irish Livestock Exporters' Association is to be welcomed. This body can represent the industry’s views, not just to my Department, but also to ferry companies, port authorities, lairage operators and other stakeholders.
At its request, I met the new Association last week to discuss a number of industry concerns, including lairage capacity. I briefed the representative body on the progress made by my Department to source new markets as outlined above and I look forward to further engagement with the group in the future.