ICSA calls for action over slump in live cattle exports

37, 579 fewer head of cattle exported live to EU countries in the year to date.

Sligo News File Online.

John Halley, ICSA Munster vice president
John Halley,
ICSA Munster vice president

ICSA Munster vice president John Halley has called for a renewed Government commitment to opening up new live export markets for cattle, particularly to North African markets.

The issue must be addressed immediately to fend off problems farmers will face next year, he said

Mr. Halley was speaking following the release of the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine which show there has been a drop of 49,166 in the number of live cattle exports up to September 12th of this year, a decline of 45.9%.

Alarmingly, said Mr. Halley, the figures reveal a significant fall in the number of live exports to continental Europe, with 37, 579 fewer head of cattle or 28.2% of the overall figure exported live to EU countries in the year to date.

“Countries including Britain, Italy, Belgium and Spain all recorded falls in the number of cattle imported.”

Mr. Halley said every effort must now be made to boost live cattle exports. “This is the only way we will be able to prevent a crisis from happening in the beef industry,” in which, he pointed out,
“it is predicted that due to increased calf births there will be an additional 110,000 head of cattle coming on to the market in the next one to two years which markets must be found for.”

The Munster vice president has now called for Government action to help develop live export markets to key North African states “such as Tunisia and Egypt.

“ICSA believes that these markets could offer potential. We need to ensure that boats are available and that secure payment channels with letters of credit are in place. Most importantly, Government needs to show the same commitment to opening these markets as has been shown for markets such as China and the US.

“The Minister has been tireless in his efforts to open up China but the potential pay-off to farmers of having significant numbers of cattle going to North Africa would be potentially far greater.

“Competition from the live export trade is the only proven way to ensure the best possible return to farmers from the beef industry.”

“It is clear that vested interests are preventing the export of significant numbers of live cattle to Britain. The ongoing intransigence of UK supermarket chains regarding the possibility of a label for cattle born in Ireland, finished in the UK is nothing more than a ploy to keep down price expectations from farmers.  Amazingly, consumers in Italy have no problem with such a label but at the moment, exports of cattle to Italy are hampered by economic pressures there. Consequently, we need to look further afield,” he added.