Processors alarmed by British plan to ban live exports
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) have expressed serious concern at the possibility of a total ban on live exports from the UK.
Such a move, if accepted, would shut down live exports to and from Northern Ireland.
UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, launched a consultation into a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter after Brexit and called on industry experts and campaigners to submit evidence.
The impact of such a move for farmers and processors on either side of the Border could be seriously damaging, the MII and UFU have claimed.
MII pointed out that on average 370,000 sheep and lambs from Northern Ireland are processed in the South each year, around 13pc of the Republic's total kill, while 450,000 Southern pigs are slaughtered in the North.
"Clearly, a curtailment of the movement of sheep from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland would have serious implications in terms of the efficiency of processing plant operations in the South," Cormac Healy of MII said.
He claimed that processors' ability to service export business would be impacted and this could have job loss implications. Similarly, Mr Healy insisted that any restrictions on the export of live pigs to the North could be hugely disruptive to the sector and could create havoc.
"If these exports stop suddenly there would be major issue in slaughtering, processing and marketing these pigs from Republic of Ireland plants in the short-term," he said.