Live exports are critical to the beef trade – Minister Creed

Live exports serve a vital purpose in the Irish beef industry, the new Minister for Agriculture and Food Michael Creed has said.

He said live exports provide a means of satisfying market demand for live animals and providing alternative market outlets for Irish cattle farmers.

“I have always attached major importance to the live cattle export trade, and my Department, along with Bord Bia, has been extremely proactive in both encouraging and facilitating shipments abroad and the cross-border live trade to Northern Ireland.”

Minister Creed said that in 2015, Ireland had high levels of exports of cattle to both Britain and Northern Ireland, largely driven by favourable currency rates which made cattle from this country more competitive in those markets.

“However, as a result of a closer euro V Sterling exchange rate, exports to the UK this year are lower by approximately 50%. Exports to Italy are up by almost 20% and exports to Spain have grown by 11%.”

Beyond this market, he said, animal health restrictions and geopolitical instability have impeded previously large-scale exports to Belgium and North Africa respectively.

“The markets currently open to live cattle from Ireland include Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Serbia and Algeria; in addition to the other 27 Member States of the European Union.

“The exploitation of market outlets, once opened is a commercial matter for the live export sector, and is affected by the usual variables, including the relative cost of beef on the domestic and international markets, currency exchange rates, transport costs and other factors.”

Minister Creed was answering questions from Fianna Fail spokesperson on Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue and said he would continue to ensure that Irish meat and livestock producers have the option of exporting to as many global markets as possible.

He said in relation to export markets, health certificates for the export of live cattle to Egypt, Serbia and Algeria are in place, while the Department is investigating the possibilities of bilateral health certificates for the export of cattle to Kazakhstan, Montenegro, and Turkey as well as breeding cattle to Morocco.

He also said that the Department recently hosted a veterinary inspection by the Turkish authorities and is awaiting a report from that exercise.