‘The ongoing search for new, non-EU markets for livestock is a priority’

The ongoing search for new, non-EU markets for livestock is a priority, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Live exports were among the strongest performers in terms of agri-food export growth in 2017, he said.

“Last year saw an increase of 21% in live exports, to the value of €175 million. €115 million of this represents the live cattle market, which saw an increase in exports of 46,000 head to 181,000 in 2017.

“Agreed health certificates with over 20 non-EU countries – including 11 for the export of cattle, and seven for sheep, pigs and goats – are overseen by my department. The list of countries and the certificates are available on my department’s website,” he said.

The minister claims to be very conscious of the vital role live exports play in stimulating live competition for domestic cattle and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers.

Commenting further, Minister Creed said: “Earlier this month my department extended an invitation to Algeria to send a technical team to visit Ireland – following on from our proposal to the Algerian authorities late last year on new and amended beef, sheepmeat and certain live animal health certificates.

In February last year, I decreased the inspection fee on calves under three months, and am happy that 2017 saw an increase in calf exports of 40%.

“Calf exports to the Netherlands increased by 55% in 2017 to 42,000 head. Exports of Irish calves to Belgium also increased last year, to over 5,000 head. Calf exports to Spain increased by 38%, to over 43,000 head.”

In a recent response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill, Minister Creed explained that officials from his department have been working closely with the shipping companies in recent months to ensure that the “greatest facilitation possible” is afforded to livestock exporters in the important spring period.

“One of the roll-on roll-off ferry companies is currently actively engaged in the process of securing an alternative vessel to replace its existing vessel which is scheduled for maintenance.

“I look forward to further updates in coming days,” he said.