‘Ireland needs to target 100,000 extra head of live exports’

Ireland needs to target an additional 100,000 head of live exports for 2018 according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) national livestock chairman Angus Woods.

Speaking earlier today at the Bord Bia Live Export seminar in Tullamore, Woods said live export market demand for calves will be strong this year and it is essential that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed ensures that full ferry facilities are in place during the peak export weeks.

Stena Line is due to service its existing vessel – which will go into dry-dock in February/March – and replace it with an alternative ship, according to the IFA.

Commenting on this, Woods said: “It must be of the highest priority to Minister Creed that the new arrangements can deal with our live exports and shipping requirements during this peak export period. Market access is absolutely critical.”

The livestock chairman said the IFA is meeting with senior officials from the Department of Agriculture today on the ferry and access issues and added that he expected to see progress on the issue over the next two weeks.

Woods said 2017 was good year for live exports with numbers up 30% at 187,870 head. Calf exports were strong at 101,600 and weanling exports reached 59,200 head. He said the reduction in charges by Minister Creed on calf exports from €4.80 to €1.20 per head was a major boost to the trade.

The Dutch veal market looks much more positive for 2018, Woods added, with strong demand due to a reduction in the dairy herd and stronger white veal and rose veal prices. In addition, he said milk replacer prices are also very competitive.

The IFA representative said the Spanish market also looks promising for 2018 with rising beef prices and growing demand in North Africa.

Irish exporters sent 30,562 animals to Turkey in 2017. This proved vital to the weanling trade throughout 2018, the chairman noted.

Wth Ireland’s growing breeding cow herd we need to recalibrate our targets on live exports, Woods said, adding:

Minister Creed – who is supportive of the live trade – needs to put all the necessary resources in place to facilitate a live trade of an additional 100,000 head of live animals.

Concluding, the chairman said the live export trade is “vital” for price competition and maximising market outlets.