Thursday, 28 November 2019

Questions (195)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

195. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps being taken to increase lairage capacity at Cherbourg. [49681/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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 at all times on the welfare of all animals being transported.

In 2018, total live exports of cattle, including calves, increased by over 30% compared to 2017, to 246,000 head. This growth trend has continued into 2019, with live exports already totalling 266,000 up until the week ending the 19th of October, 2019. This is up from 221,000 for the same period in 2018 – a 20% increase.

Officials from my Department are in on-going communication with Irish exporters with regard to the need for co-operative management between each other to ensure that the lairage capacity at Cherbourg is optimised. I have urged the live export sector to consider developing an additional lairage in Cherbourg or engaging with the owners of existing facilities to explore the potential for additional capacity. This has proved possible – as evidenced by the French authorities approving an increase of the holding capacity of the Qualivia lairage in Cherbourg earlier this year. My Department worked closely with the French authorities in this matter. The move provided for additional daily capacity for 400 calves.

I met with the exporters in September to discuss and review existing export procedures, including lairage facilities in Cherbourg. Officials from my Department have had continued regular engagement with them.

I am aware that industry stakeholders the IFA, ICOS and ICMSA recently visited Cherbourg with a view to addressing the issue of lairage capacity ahead of Spring 2020. My Department will continue to liaise with stakeholders  on the matter.