Creed: ‘Sheepmeat a keen focus in Far East trade mission’

Sheepmeat exports will be a “keen focus” for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine as he prepares to travel to Japan and South Korea for a trade mission in the coming days.

Michael Creed was speaking at the annual general meeting (AGM) of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) in Sligo yesterday, Thursday, June 6.

He told farmers in attendance that: “Good progress has been made in recent times to expand opportunities for the sheepmeat sector internationally.

Sheepmeat markets were opened in Kuwait and Qatar in 2018 with the agreement of veterinary health certificates in both of those countries.

The minister added that: “Significant work is underway in relation to developing market access opportunities for the sheepmeat sector in the US, China and Japan.”

Minister Creed highlighted the progress that was made in a recent trade mission to China, and his hopes for next week’s trip to Japan and Korea.

“During my trade mission to China last month, further progress was made, with a commitment by the Chinese authorities to an inspection visit to cover beef and sheepmeat in August of this year,” he said.

And next week I am travelling to Japan and South Korea on a trade mission, where I will meet with key ministers, with a keen focus on sheepmeat access.

“Capitalising on the opportunities in these markets is not easy, but the first critical step is to get access,” remarked the minister.

EID tagging

Minister Creed also addressed the issue of electronic identification (EID) tagging, and the controversy surrounding the readiness of marts and factories.

He acknowledged that not all marts and slaughter plants will chose to upgrade their facilities for reading EID tags, and that farmers moving sheep through these establishments would have to continue listing the individual numbers of all sheep presented on the dispatch document.

The use of EID tagging for sheep became mandatory for farmers on June 1; however, marts and slaughter plants are not required to have the necessary technology for reading these tags.

The minister argued that the use of EID tagging would be a factor in securing further international access for Irish sheepmeat.

“I am confident that, in the longer term, this decision on extending EID to all sheep will be seen to have been in the best interests of the sector and a key element in strengthening and expanding export markets for Irish sheepmeat,” he said.