Brexit could boost live cattle export trade to UK
The expansion of the lucrative live cattle export trade to Britain and Northern Ireland could be an unlikely consequence of Brexit, a farm body has claimed.
ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan suggested that Brexit could reignite the live trade to the UK, which had been hampered in recent years by the way British supermarkets have implemented EU country of origin labelling regulations.
"The EU labelling requirement for beef demands that the label contains details of the animal since birth. UK supermarkets deem that it is too complex to provide information on beef from animals born in the Republic of Ireland and finished in the UK," Mr Phelan explained.
"However, post Brexit, it will be up to the UK to draft its own labelling laws. While they might choose to keep the same rules, there will be a need to avoid flouting WTO laws on barriers to trade," he added.
Mr Phelan argued the manner in which UK supermarkets are currently handling the country-of-origin labelling issue is acceptable only because both the UK and Ireland are essentially regions within the one WTO member, the European Union.
"But if the UK is outside the EU, then the WTO could take a much closer interest in the way in which live exports between Ireland and the UK are effectively blocked," he said.
Irish exports to the North have held at around 55,000 head over the last few years, but hit a recent high of 95,000 head in 2010.
Exports to Britain reached 18,000 head in 2014 but generally ranged from 7,000 to 11,000 head since 2010.