Fears ease for farmers as Turkey to import Irish cattle
Beef farmers have been offered a lifeline with the news that Turkey has given the green light to live cattle imports from Ireland.
The announcement comes when Irish beef farmers were fearing the worst from a boom in the national herd numbers, with an extra 80,000 head of cattle threatening to collapse prices this autumn.
Hopes were beginning to fade that no live export openings would materialise this year, despite a series of diplomatic pushes by the Department of Agriculture.
Live export agents bought thousands of cattle in anticipation of the massive Turkish market opening up following visits by Turkish veterinary officials here in the spring.
Last year Turkey imported 380,000 head of cattle, with about one third of this sourced in France.
However, the outbreak of Bluetongue forced the Turkish authorities to look further afield, with Ireland's disease-free status and surplus of stock providing a ready substitute.
Live exports are seen by beef farmers as a crucial alternative to the dominant buying might of a handful of powerful beef processors such as Larry Goodman's ABP, Dawn Meats and Kepak.
However, the trade had slumped by over 25pc this year as demand dropped in traditional live export markets such as France and north Africa.