New regulations for livestock marts announced

New legislation to regulate livestock marts has been introduced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, today – updating legislation that has been in place for many years.

The Animal Health and Welfare (Livestock Marts) Regulations 2018 is enacted under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 and replaces the Livestock Marts Act 1967.

The minister said that the regulations modernise the laws relating to livestock marts, and require livestock marts to have a new licence prior to January 1, 2019.

The regulations represent a “significant step forward” in relation to animal health and welfare requirements in a trading environment that matches international standards, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Minister Creed said that the regulations put Ireland to the fore of best international practice and added: “I am conscious of the importance of managing the risks of animal disease associated with the movement of animals and – in that regard – it is critical to have robust biosecurity procedures in marts.”

The minister emphasised that he is very conscious of the need to maintain very high standards of animal welfare, including calf welfare.

The prohibition on possession of a stick around calves less than 42 days of age at a livestock mart will encourage livestock marts to modernise droving behaviours to reduce stress in cattle presented at livestock marts, the department added.

Minister Creed said: “The inclusion of a provision in the legislation prohibiting the sale of calves under 10 days old at marts (effective January 1, 2019) is a progressive step in advancing animal welfare.”

The minister thanked the stakeholders for their “very constructive participation” in the consultation process when drafting this “modern regulatory framework for the livestock mart sector”.

Concluding, he said: “In preparing and drafting the regulations, I have always been aware of the need to balance the requirements of the commercial agri-food sector with the need to protect the health and welfare of animals.

“The focus on animal health and welfare in the trading environment for live animals is a vital component of our strategy for the continued success of Ireland’s agri-food sector and of obtaining and maintaining export markets.”