Creed must prioritise live trade – IFA’s Healy

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has told Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, that he must “prioritise the live trade” after the association met with live exporters this week.

IFA president Joe Healy said that focusing on live trade was necessary in order to double export numbers in the coming year.

“A strong live export trade is absolutely essential for price competition in the cattle trade and for providing major market outlets, especially for calves and weanlings,” Healy said today (January 10).

According to Healy, the exporters who met with the IFA said that Creed must address a number of issues around live trade, such as increasing ferry and lairage capacity.

Healy also outlined that exporters expressed concerns over the possibility of a reduction in the 29-day assembly period for live exports.

“The IFA has made it very clear to Minister Creed that he cannot allow the EU to restrict Irish live exports to the EU single market, and under no circumstances can he accept any reduction in the 29-day period,” he said.

He added that access to the Turkish market, and making inroads on disease control, were also important issues for the exporters.

In 2018, Ireland shipped 246,000 head – 158,000 of which were calves. The main market was Spain, which took 92,000 head, followed by the Netherlands at 46,000 head.

Meanwhile, Healy’s colleague, IFA dairy chairman Tom Phelan, said ferry capacity will be increased considerably in 2019 with the new ferry from Dublin.

“It is essential to increase calf exports in line with the increase in dairy cow numbers, and to optimise lairage capacity by having the ferry sailings on alternate days,” he said.