The ICSA has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed to redouble his efforts to secure additional markets for Irish beef.

Its Beef chairman Edmond Phelan and Suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher have welcomed the announcement by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that Turkey is now open for Irish cattle imports.

Both said finding new markets for live cattle exports is vital, the plan should now be to export as many as possible.

Turkey imported a total of 380,000 head of live cattle in 2015, the majority from South America. France exported over 120,000 head to the Turkish market in 2015.

This week, the Department of Agriculture announced that Ireland has been listed by the Turkish Ministry for Agriculture as a country from which live bovines may be imported.

This follows pro active and detailed engagement by his department with its Turkish counterparts and an inspection by a Turkish veterinary delegation in May.

The Department is now awaiting a formal confirmation from the Turkish authorities, both in relation to access and any conditions attaching to certification.

It is understood the immediate requirement in Turkey would be for live exports in the form of younger stock, mainly bull weanlings up to 12 months of age and up to 300kg, from the suckler herd.

The cattle will be bought in Ireland at 250kg to allow for six weeks of lairage and shipping time, it is believed.

However, according to the ICSA’s Phelan Ireland also has to get cattle moving to Egypt where there is a need for heavier stores.

“The weight limit for Turkey is set at 300kg; ICSA would like to see markets for heavier cattle as we need all the markets we can get to ensure competition.”

“It is also becoming increasingly apparent that the meat factories don’t have viable markets for all available cattle and with an estimated 80,000 extra cattle forecast for the autumn, prospects don’t look good.

“Processors need to be aggressively sourcing markets not just cutting the price and selling off prime product at a discount when cattle become plentiful.

“I would urge Minister Creed to redouble his efforts to secure viable live export markets as a matter of urgency”, he said.