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 totaling 244,000 up to the week ending September 8. This is up from 204,000 for the same period in 2018 – a 20% increase.
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.
This is according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Micheal Creed, who was speaking in the Dáil earlier this week after he was asked by deputy Michael Healy-Rae (Independent) to address the certification for the transport of cattle to Turkey.
The minister, meanwhile, pointed to animal welfare and highlighted that the department “maintains robust oversight of live trade, through a comprehensive legislative framework” – in respect of that.
In my meetings with exporters I have stressed the importance of high animal welfare standards.
Minister Creed continued: “My department has not certified transport of animals by road to Turkey for several years due to the unacceptable animal welfare conditions which that route entails.
“Animals travelling by road from Ireland can only enter Turkey at Kapikule on the Bulgaria-Turkey border.
“It is the busiest border crossing in Europe and animals regularly encounter very long and unpredictable delays there.
There are no facilities to offload animals to provide them with statutory rest periods, food and water; there is only a single water point at that crossing.
“There is no shelter available. Animals have to remain on the trucks during such delays, where they are often exposed to intolerable conditions, including extreme heat or cold.
“My department does not intend to reverse the decision already made in relation to this.”