IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns met the EU Commission in Brussels this week demanding urgent action to remove the artificial blockages preventing the full operation of the live export trade to Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Accoding to the Livestock and Meat Commission in Northern Ireland Imports of prime cattle from ROI for direct slaughter totalled 373 head last week and accounted for 6.6 per cent of the total prime kill in the North. In the corresponding week last year prime cattle imports for direct slaughter from ROI totalled 476 head and accounted for 7.6 per cent of the total prime cattle kill.

Henry Burns said IFA made it clear to the EU Commission that the EU Single Market must work and retailers and factories cannot be allowed to put any blockages in place which prevent the proper operation of the Single Market.

He said retailers and processors are refusing to buy cattle which were born in the Republic of Ireland, and fattened and slaughtered in Northern Ireland, despite the fact that the EU beef labelling regulations are very clear. “In this regard, retailers and processors are preventing the operation of the EU Single market.”

Henry Burns said IFA requested the EU Commission to write to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Northern Minister Michelle O Neill, instructing both of them to ensure that farmers on both sides of the border are not denied the benefits of the EU Single Market. In addition, IFA also requested the EU Commission to write to both the retailers and processors in Ireland and the UK setting out that the rules of the EU Single Market must be fully complied with.

Henry Burns told the EU Commission that the live trade works effectively to other EU markets such as Italy and Spain for Irish livestock. He said in these markets the EU labelling regulations are fully applied and there are no problems.

The IFA Livestock leader also repeated his request to Minister Simon Coveney to meet with the Northern Ireland Minister Michelle O Neill this week to discuss the live export trade to the North and the action they need to take to ensure that farmers both sides of the border are not denied the full price and competition benefits from the trade.