Irish live cattle exports to Northern Ireland have improved sharply in 2015, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that total live cattle exports to the North stood at 55,000 head in 2015, he confirmed recently.

Coveney said that this improvement has occurred due to the weaker euro which created more favourable conditions for live exporters to operate.

Currency fluctuations are one of the major factors in determining the relative economic attractiveness of Irish exports to the United Kingdom.

“Live exports serve a vital purpose as a means of satisfying market demand for live animals and providing essential alternative market outlets for Irish cattle farmers,” he said.

In total, he confirmed that over 178,500 cattle were exported from Ireland by live export in 2015, to over 18 different countries.

Overall Live cattle exports fall in 2015

However, total live cattle exports are back on 2014 levels, the Minister said, due to improved demand for Irish cattle domestically.

“Improved domestic demand and a tightening supply led, in 2015, to a situation where producers received the best prices on record at marts.

“This internal demand is also a significant factor in the overall drop in live exports in 2015 compared to 2014,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ICMSA has called for the live cattle trade to become a real political priority due to the expected increase in Irish cattle numbers on the ground.

Speaking recently, Michael Guinan, Chairperson of the ICMSA called on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to intervene directly to ensure that Ireland gets access to the lucrative Turkish market.

Our EU counterparts have access to this market and we have to be entitled to the same arrangements.

He also said that live cattle exports in 2015 were down on 2014 levels by almost a quarter and this needs to increase substantially in 2016.

Live exports set the floor price for all types of cattle and, with the increased numbers we’re going to see in 2016, we just have to see more cattle exported live.

“The responsible agencies are going to have to focus strongly and keep that focus for the foreseeable future,” he said.