Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney and the European Commission have been called on to update the terms and conditions for the live export of sheep.

Making the call ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said the current live export terms and conditions pre-date the sophisticated electronic tagging system which is now well-established in Ireland, and need to be updated to take account of this.

The ICSA feel that the terms and conditions for the live export of sheep should be similar to those for exporting calves.

The current rules

The rules presently state that sheep purchased in a livestock sale have to reside in the live exporters’ holding for a minimum of 30 days before they are eligible for export to an EU feedlot.

Live exporters simply cannot do business in a volatile market 30-plus days in advance.

According to Brooks calves purchased in a livestock mart by a live exporter can be brought to a Department-approved holding year on the date of purchase, and if deemed fit to travel by a vet, can be exported immediately.

“Over 80% of sheep produced in Ireland have to be exported,” continued Brooks.

Easy access to live exports is vital to provide much needed competition in the market place.

He said it is imperative that Minister Coveney and the European Commission give this issue the urgent attention it requires.