The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is urging the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to “personally intervene” on issues that have resulted in the cancellation of a live cattle consignment to Algeria.

Roundwood Park Livestock Limited today, Monday, May 11, confirmed that its scheduled departure – of up to 1,200 bulls and bullocks – to the North African country has been called off in light of matters relating to health certificate conditions set out by authorities.

Following developments over the last 48 hours, the Wicklow-based exporter has disclosed that the ship – which was due to sail on Friday, May 15 – is now diverted to France from where, it says, the Algerian contract will be serviced for now.

Responding to the situation this evening, IFA president Tim Cullinan is of the view that Minister Michael Creed should “intervene personally” and “immediately” to resolve the issues which resulted in the cancellation of the sailing.

It’s unbelievable that we have a boat docked in Waterford ready to bring 1,200 Irish cattle to Algeria – and it’s now likely to leave empty and instead go to France to collect cattle.

“The minister needs to intercede immediately to get this sorted,” Cullinan said.

Agreement ‘in principal’

Earlier today the exporter outlined how it had come to the “regrettable” conclusion.

It was highlighted that issues arose regarding strict health certificate requirements set out by the Department of Agriculture at a meeting between both parties in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, on Saturday, May 9.

While both sides agreed (in writing) to the conditions “in principal” at the meeting, Dr. Ahmed Salman of the company told AgriLand that he also “verbally stated” that one of the conditions in particular – relating to the 10-day withdrawal period of anthelmintics (pour-on anti-parasite medication) – was “not achievable”.

It is important to note that a key tenant of the agreement between the Irish and Algerian authorities on the export of male bovines is that the animals are ready for immediate slaughter on arrival at their destination.

In a statement Roundwood Park Livestock said: “At a meeting between the company and Department of Agriculture officials the department set a condition which the company insists is simply impossible to meet.

“The condition required that farmers dose all cattle for export with a particular medication at the latest yesterday, Sunday [May] 10.

“They refused to allow dosing at the mart prior to loading.

The impossibility of complying with this condition for a medication – which is not readily available and where outlets are closed on Sundays – is self-evident.

Following the meeting – also attended by representation of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – a spokesperson for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, issued a statement to this publication confirming that the boatload – the second consignment from the company – was expected to depart for Algeria this coming weekend.

The statement highlighted how the Algerian market for livestock has been “hard fought for” by the department and that “every effort” was being made to assist the trade – “whilst ensuring our high standards, and those required of us by the Algerian authorities are met”.

It was also stated that department officials had “reiterated” a number of points in terms of what is expected in the context of animal welfare and safety in transport – particularly its stance of not allowing horned animals to be ship-loaded for transport.

The spokesperson said: “All points were agreed to by the exporter.”

However, in today’s statement, Roundwood Park Livestock Limited also challenged this remark.

“Contrary to a statement issued to AgriLand by a spokesperson for the minister that ‘all points were agreed to by the exporter’, there was no agreement on this condition and the statement is misleading.

“It is unfortunate no one from Roundwood Park Livestock Limited was contacted prior to the statement being issued on behalf of the minister.

“The ship is now diverted to France from where the Algerian contract will be serviced for now,” the statement from the exporter concludes.

Department position

In a further statement on the matter this afternoon, the department said it has been advised by the promoter that the proposed shipment of livestock to Algeria, due to take place this Friday, has been “postponed”.

The statement outlines: “The department met with the exporter, and his associates, on Saturday at which time the processes and protocols necessary to enable the export [to] proceed were agreed.

The exporter reverted on Monday morning indicating that the export would not proceed on this coming Friday as it was not possible for him to have sufficient quantity of compliant animals for export assembled by then.

The department highlighted that it will work with all exporters in the expectation that shipments of livestock to Algeria will take place in the future.

The department has been working hard in developing the livestock trade with Algeria; these efforts included a trade visit to the country in February 2020.

“Minister Creed has been a strong supporter of live exports throughout his tenure as minister which has seen live exports double during his time in office.”

The department highlighted that live export trade opportunities now exist with several third countries including: Libya; Turkey; Egypt; Tunisia; Algeria; Lebanon; Morocco; Russia; and Kazakhstan.

Having acquired access to these markets the department works to ensure that all exports have veterinary certification in accordance with each importing country’s specific market requirements.

“Since the beginning of this year, 9,763 animals were successfully exported to third country markets,” the statement concludes.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further updates on this story…