The news that a contract has been agreed to export a reported 20,000 head of young bulls to Turkey has been welcomed by the IFA.

The IFA has been in contact with Purcell Brothers, who recently secured the contract, according to the IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods.

Woods believes this live cattle export contract is a very positive development and a major boost to the livestock sector.

It is expected that boats will begin to sail in late April and continue after that, with a requirement for young bulls under 12 months of age.

The IFA has been working with exporters and buyers as well as with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to get the Turkish trade moving again, Woods said.

There is great interest in Irish cattle and he expects further contracts to be secured, he added.

Last year the IFA worked hard to get the live export market to Turkey opened, which had significant price benefits for cattle farmers in marts across the country, he said.

Between September and December last year, more than 19,000 cattle were exported by the Meath-based export company Viastar, according to Woods.

The IFA National Livestock Chairman believes the live export trade is essential for competition in the livestock sector and was never needed more than “at this time of rising cattle numbers”.

Turkey is a major live export market and a great opportunity for the Irish livestock sector.

“Turkey has an import requirement for 400,000 head of live cattle annually.

“In 2015, Turkey imported 380,000 head of cattle from Europe and South America. Turkey is a high-volume destination, capable of paying good prices,” he said.

Meanwhile, live cattle exports in 2017 continue to rise, reaching 8,302 head in the week ending February 26, he added.

“Calf exports continue to rise week-on-week and totalled 6,646 head, while 857 adult cattle, 452 weanlings and 347 stores were also exported.

“The recent move to reduce charges on calf exports by €1,150 per load is a major boost to the trade,” he said.

Looking at live export destinations in 2017, Woods said that 4,453 head went to the Netherlands, 2,099 to Spain, 786 to Northern Ireland, 388 to Britain, 272 to Belgium, 244 to Italy and 60 to Greece.