New live export controls: 3 ships cleared; 2 more being inspected
Three dedicated livestock carriers have been cleared under new animal welfare regulations, while two more are currently being inspected, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.
The minister was responding to a parliamentary question from deputy Fergus O’Dowd in the Dail last week.
Commenting on animal welfare, Minister Creed said that departmental inspections ensure that “the highest animal welfare standards are strictly complied with during transport of live cattle”.
“The Department of Agriculture has put additional controls on calf exports to ensure the highest welfare standards for unweaned calves.
Departmental officials visited control posts in Cherbourg in September in this regard and are engaging with live exporters. Department officials have met with the ferry companies in relation to calf exports.
“Currently, three dedicated livestock carriers are approved: mv Sarah; mv Alondra; and the mv Holstein Express. My officials are in the process of completing inspections of two further vessels,” the minister said.
Commenting on the importance of live exports for price competition and an alternative market outlet for farmers, he added that the ongoing search for new markets is a priority for his department – particularly in light of Brexit.
“In 2018, up to November 10, over 227,000 head of cattle were exported. This is a 30% increase on the period last year,” he said.
“Exports to other EU countries significantly increased this year over the same period last year (January to November 10).
The largest export market for cattle was Spain with exports of 84,000 head (up from 49,000), followed by the Netherlands at 48,000 (41,000 in 2017) and Italy at 23,000 (up from 19,000).
Due in part to severe fluctuations in currency in Turkey, the minister noted that live exports to third countries have decreased this year. In spite of this, nearly 13,000 head of cattle were exported to Turkey to date this year, he added.
“My department last week reached an agreement with the Libyan authorities on veterinary health certs for the export of breeding, 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.
“Agreement was reached on an increase in the age of cattle that can be exported to Libya, from 24 to 30 months – this increases opportunities for exporters to export a wider range of cattle.”
Concluding, the minister said that prospects for live cattle exports remain very good and efforts continue to engage with third countries and to seek out new markets for live exports.