The Irish Livestock Stakeholders Association (ILSA) has launched a petition calling on the public to recognise the importance of live exports to farmer communities and the Irish economy in general.

Kicked off by the Irish live exporters’ representative group last week, the petition has notched up almost 1,300 signatures at the time of writing.

In a statement accompanying the petition, the group said: “The ILSA has created the following petition to help the general public recognise the importance of livestock exports to farmers, regional communities and the Irish economy.

“We also want to share the contribution the industry makes to improving nutrition in overseas countries by providing safe sources of meat.

Live exports have continued to provide an income to farmers and create employment to thousands of people in regional Ireland in a time when many other areas of the rural economy have been affected. [A] ban of the trade would create problems both domestically and internationally.

The association highlighted that, from an international perspective, supporting Irish live exports means “supporting the continual development of world-leading animal welfare standards that Irish exporters and the Department of Agriculture have developed over decades”.

Pointing to the high welfare standards in place, the group claimed: “We now operate to the highest animal welfare standards in the world.

“If Irish live exports are banned, other less experienced countries will step in and fill what would be a significant market void.

For animal welfare, this would be a huge step in the wrong direction. Other exporting countries will not have the same standards and practice implemented in Ireland.

The organisation also stressed the importance of live exports in providing competition in the marketplace for beef prices, stating: “A halt to exports will result in factories dictating beef prices.

“It is widely known that an industry where beef processors have the monopoly, exporting livestock is vital in ensuring price competition in the market place by providing an alternative outlet for farmers,” the group claimed.

Pushing back against campaigns calling for a ban on live trade, the organisation called for a “far more sensible approach to discussions and actions required”.

For those interested, the ILSA’s petition can be found here.