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Wednesday 20 August 2014

Beef industry blow as Russia imposes €6m ban

Declan O'Brien

Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30

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Russian Ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov told the Irish Independent that if Ireland supported sanctions against the superpower it would suffer serious economic consequences. Photo: Damien Eagers
Russian Ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov told the Irish Independent that if Ireland supported sanctions against the superpower it would suffer serious economic consequences. Photo: Damien Eagers

RUSSIA has imposed a blanket ban on imports of beef offal from Ireland in a major blow to the industry here.

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The surprise move to cut off supplies from Irish factories follows a serious of visits from Russian vets to 12 food processing facilities.

Ireland exported more than €6.6m worth of beef offal to Russia last year and pressure was mounting on the Department of Agriculture last night to limit damage to the industry's reputation.

The move comes three months after Russia's Ambassador to Ireland Maxim Peshkov told the Irish Independent that if Ireland supported sanctions against the superpower over its actions in the Ukraine it would suffer economic consequences.

However, industry sources indicted that they did not think the decision to ban Irish imports was politically motivated. It is understood that a number of beef, dairy and fish processing plants have been affected by the decision.

The Department of Agriculture said it was still awaiting official confirmation of the Russian decision as well as the final reports on the audits by their inspection teams.

"The Department and the Irish Embassy in Moscow are working with the Russian authorities to try and resolve the issues as quickly as possible," a spokesperson said.

Russia has become one of Ireland's more important trade partners outside of the EU and US. Farmers exported around €90m worth of meat products last year.

A significant portion of this included offal, with factories exporting mainly hearts and livers to the market.

"In recent years, Russia had developed as an important outlet for certain beef offal products and the loss of this outlet will have a direct and immediate impact on returns from the marketplace.

"It is a blow at a time when overall market returns are challenged and cattle prices under pressure," a Meat Industry Ireland spokesman (MII) said.

Describing the Russian announcement as "extremely disappointing", the MII spokesman pointed out that for some time now Russian veterinary inspections in other EU member states had resulted in removal of some plants from the approved list.

The reasons for the offal ban and imposition of restrictions on particular plants is still uncertain. It is understood Department of Agriculture officials are to contact their Russian counterparts on the issue this week.

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