Niall Claffey and Claire Mc Cormack
8,000-head Kazakhstan heifer contract lost to Australian-based exporters
A potential 8,000-head Irish breeding heifer contract has been lost to Australia, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association’s (ICMSA’s) Livestock Committee chairman Des Morrison, who was speaking at the organisation’s AGM earlier today in Limerick.
The contract was believed to be for black Limousin breeding heifers – destined for Kazakhstan on the Russia/Asia border.
Addressing the table of the ICMSA’s president Pat McCormack, deputy president Lorcan McCabe and general secretary John Enright, he informed the table that a contract for 8,000 heifers had been been lost.
He outlined that the reason behind the loss was due to Australia subsidising the contract. He is also calling for changes to the ‘cumbersome’ process of securing veterinary certificates for live cattle exports.
Speaking to AgriLand, he said: “If we are going to solve the problem of low beef prices, we have to have real competition in the market place.
“This competition is at the gift of Minister Creed’s department and there has to be a co-ordinated focus on this because – if we can get animals out of this country live – we will reduce the number of animals being available for slaughter each week.
“That – in turn – will automatically raise prices because we will have real competition in the market place,” he added.
Morrison is also calling for changes to the certification system for live exports. He explained: “Our livestock in Ireland at the moment are competitive for live export, [but] our department is too slow to issue certs; there is also an issue with certs for Algeria at the moment – they are just too slow and the process around certs is too cumbersome.
Live exports cannot be put through every hoop that is going; it takes too much time and too much expense. There doesn’t seem to be any co-ordinated person, either in the department or Bord Bia.
“One seems to be putting to the other at the moment and it seems to me and to the ICMSA that there is no great political push to move this on,” Morrison added.
Continuing, he said: “To give credit where it is due, calf exports doubled last year and they are going to keep our live exports more or less on par.
“But since then, the real store cattle trade export is where the problem is and that is just dribbling along at a very slow pace.
“If that was pushed on and moved aggressively and extra cattle were being exported live out of the country, we wouldn’t have the problem we have today of high cattle kills and low prices,” he concluded.