Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has outlined that he will continue to prioritise live exports – but underlined the critical need to operate to strict animal welfare regulations when doing so.
Speaking to AgriLand in Seoul, South Korea, last week, the minister was responding to recent calls by the Green Party for the banning of “unethical” live exports in Ireland.
In his response, the minister said: “I don’t agree; we have put a lot of effort into the live export trade and the fruits of that labour are there to be seen in terms of the numbers that have been exported.
But we have always said that this is a trade that is dependent on those involved in it operating to the highest standards.
Minister Creed added: “We are responsible for how we conduct ourselves as exporters here and how we oversee that.”
Referencing the recent arrest of a man for animal cruelty in the French port of Cherbourg in May, he added:
“We can’t be held responsible or accountable for what others may do individually – and we’re delighted to see, in reference to the breaches of animal welfare standards, prosecutions in the French courts for that.
“I will continue to prioritise live exports – but on the basis that we continue to operate to the standards and regulations we have set down – which in many instances are higher than the minimum European Union standards required.”
Calling for a live export ban last month, Green Party spokesperson on agriculture, councillor Pippa Hackett, said: “Farmers have been misled by their farm organisations that live exports are ‘vital’ to keep a floor on the market, yet despite these claims, the beef price has never been worse.
“The only people really benefitting from this sector are a small handful of exporters,” the councillor said, adding that “a serious re-think is necessary, because consumers will not stand for it”.