Building bridges for the livestock industry through export

Speaking during a Dáil debate on Thursday, May 9, 2019, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said that live exports were “a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry”.

He also said that in 2018 total live exports of cattle increased by more than 30% to 246,000 head compared to the same period in 2017.

The minister, meanwhile, was responding to a question from Fianna Fáil deputy Jackie Cahill who asked him about the targets that the department and Bord Bia have set for live exports of cattle in 2019.

Cahill also pointed to competition in the industry and how it can be encouraged through live exports.

He asked too what plans were in place “to ensure that a significant number of cattle would be moved out of the country in the second half of 2019”.

‘Competition and alternative markets’

Addressing matters the minister said that live exports played a significant role in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers.

“The department facilitates this trade recognising its critical importance to the agricultural sector and ensuring that live animal exports meet the highest welfare standards,” he continued.

“This represents a value of €110 million to the economy, according to Bord Bia.

This growth trend has continued into 2019 with live exports of cattle totalling 163,000 up to April 28 – a 28% increase on the same period in 2018.

The minister went on to say that his decision in 2017 to reduce the veterinary inspection fee payable on live exports of calves less than three months-of-age from €4.80 to €1.20 had brought greater equity to the inspection fee regime.

Since then, there has been continued growth in the export of calves, rising from 102,000 head in 2017 to 159,000 in 2018 – a 56% increase.

Increasing the trade

“According to the most recent Bord Bia figures for 2019, calf exports stand at 123,000/head, with consignments to the Netherlands and Spain accounting for 50% and 31% of this trade, respectively,” the minister added.

“This increase in trade is also apparent with regard to the export of non-calves – weanlings, stores and finished cattle – which are approximately 23% up on last year, according to Bord Bia’s most recent statistics.”

Minister Creed then pointed out that the live export of cattle is a commercial undertaking.

Therefore, it is not appropriate for my department or Bord Bia to set targets; rather, they seek to facilitate the industry by creating the market opportunities for the trade.

He continued: “My department will continue to prioritise efforts to deepen existing markets and gain access to new third country markets through the negotiation of new and revised health certificates.

‘Fact-finding mission’

“This week, my department hosted a visit by a Turkish technical team, including officials from the ministry of agriculture and ESK, the Turkish Meat and Milk Board.

“The objective of the visit was to conduct an on-site fact-finding mission to evaluate the technical aspects of live animal and germinal product exports from Ireland to Turkey.

This is yet another welcome development as we seek to re-establish our live trade with Turkey.

He continued: “The visit by Turkish officials follows on from my March meeting with my Turkish counterpart, Dr. Bekir Pakdemirli, Minister for Agriculture and Forestry.

“I also welcome the progress made on live exports to Algeria arising from the technical meetings between my department and Bord Bia and their counterparts in Algiers last week.”