Exports to North Africa resume after health certificate is approved
At least one truckload of cattle is understood to have been shipped across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco over the past week.
The opening of the live trade to the North African state follows last week's confirmation by the Department of Agriculture that the market had been re-opened to live Irish cattle.
The market had been closed for almost a decade and a half, and its reopening follows a successful visit here by a delegation of senior Moroccan veterinarians last March.
Announcing the move, Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith said that a certificate, which allowed the export of live cattle from Ireland to Morocco, was agreed by both countries last month and a veterinary health certificate for the export of Irish beef was ratified last week.
Irish beef from animals aged under 48 months will now be allowed into Morocco without BSE testing, and beef from animals over 48 months, which have tested negative for BSE, will also be approved. This is the same testing regime which applies to beef exports destined for the EU.
The minister also announced that, following the reopening of the Tunisian market to Irish beef in April, a veterinary health certificate has now been agreed which will permit the export of sheep meat from Ireland to Tunisia.
ICSA suckler chairman Brendan McLaughlin has welcomed the re-opening of the North African markets.
"The resumption of a live export trade to Morocco is a welcome development, given the failure of meat factories to return a viable price for Irish beef," Mr McLaughlin said.