How are 2019 live cattle export figures faring?

An update on Ireland’s live cattle export situation has been given by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in response to a parliamentary question.

Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith asked the minister if he has had recent discussions with the French authorities in relation to the need to increase lairage facilities at Cherbourg; and if he would make a statement on the matter.

In his response, Minister Creed said: “Live exports are a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry. They play a significant role in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers.

“My department facilitates this trade, recognising its importance to the agri-food sector, while placing a strong emphasis on the welfare of all animals being transported.”

The figures

Continuing, Minister Creed outlined: “In 2018, total live exports of cattle increased by over 30% compared to 2017, to 246,000 head.

This growth trend has continued into 2019, with live exports already totalling 229,000 up until the week ending July 14.

“This is up from 179,000 for the same period in 2018 – a 28% increase.”

In his response, the minister suggested that this increase is in part down to 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.

Since then, there has been continued growth in the export of calves, rising from 102,000 in 2017 to 159,000 in 2018.

“We have already surpassed this figure in 2019, with 187,000 calves exported in the year to date. Development of additional lairage capacity in Cherbourg is a commercial matter for the export sector.”

Cherbourg discussions

In relation to the increased lairage capacity in Cherbourg, Minister Creed said: “Officials from my department met their French counterparts recently in Cherbourg and, during these discussions, the French authorities indicated that they would be willing to consider applications submitted for additional lairage capacity should they arise.

This has proved possible as evidenced by the French authorities approving an increase of the holding capacity of the Qualivia lairage in Cherbourg earlier this year.

“My department worked closely with the French authorities in this matter. The move provided for additional daily capacity for 400 animals, providing increased capacity of some 1,200 animals per week.”

Concluding, Minister Creed said: “In my meetings with live exporters, I have suggested that a representative group be set up to represent their interests with a view to enhancing coordination in relation to the live export trade.”