Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

30 day rule on cattle exports could damage live trade boom

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Tighter controls on the sale of animals destined for export markets have the potential to seriously disrupt the live trade.

It has emerged that new regulations which are due to come into force early next year will stipulate that all animals bought in the marts by exporters must be held for 30 days prior to being shipped.

At the moment, cattle bought in marts and bound for export only require a 30-day pre-movement test for TB.

However, the new regulations will require shippers to prove that they have owned the cattle for up to a month or that they have been purchased directly from the farm.

Under the new controls, all cattle being exported must have a 30-day pre-movement test; must come from the holding where they have been resident for the previous 30 days; once they leave the holding of residence they must be held in a recognised assembly area and exported within six days.

As marts do not qualify as recognised assembly areas, the sale of an animal through a mart is viewed under the new regulations as a breach of the 30-day residency.

One industry source maintained that if marts were to be recognised as designated assembly points, then special export sales would have to be organised where all animals were 30-day pre-movement tested.


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It is understood that the new regulations had been in place for some time but had not been enforced here.

However, the Department of Agriculture were informed by the commission that the full live export controls must be put in place by early next year.

"The EU Commission has taken the view that the arrangements in place in Ireland in relation to live exports are not in line with the EU Directive on inter-community trade," the Department confirmed. "The Department is satisfied that the arrangements provide the necessary safeguards but has decided, nevertheless, to consult with the farming organisations and live exporters on how best to comply with the commission's interpretation of the directive, while at the same time minimising any disruption to the live export trade."

Live exports have been crucial to keeping a floor on cattle prices this year. According to Department figures, there has been a 23pc lift in the number of cattle shipped compared to last year.

Up to the end of October, 305,000 animals were exported live. This compares to 248,000 for the same period last year.

A further 40,000hd are expected to be sold abroad by the end of the December, taking total live exports for this year to almost 350,000hd.

Commenting on the difficulties, ICMSA president Jackie Cahill said it was essential that the live trade was protected.

"It is up to the Minister for Agriculture to lobby at political level and find a solution to this issue," Mr Cahill said.

"The marts must be permitted to continue to play a role in the live export of cattle. We have done the work to develop these export markets, we have made a serious investment in the trade and we cannot allow this vital outlet for Irish stock to be closed or restricted," he insisted.

Irish Independent