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Thursday 17 January 2019

Two more boats for live exports under inspection by Department

Currently, there are three dedicated livestock carriers approved by the Department of Agriculture, the Minister confirmed in recent days: mv Sarah, mv Alondra, and the mv Holstein Express. Stock Image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Currently, there are three dedicated livestock carriers approved by the Department of Agriculture, the Minister confirmed in recent days: mv Sarah, mv Alondra, and the mv Holstein Express. Stock Image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Department of Agriculture is currently inspecting two further boats for live exports, it has confirmed, as total live export figures for the year are up 30pc.

Currently, there are three dedicated livestock carriers approved by the Department of Agriculture, the Minister confirmed in recent days: MV Sarah, MV Alondra, and the MV Holstein Express.

He also told Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd that his officials are in the process of completing inspections of two further vessels.

O'Dowd had questioned the Minister in the Dail last week about how live exports have performed to date in 2018.

Minister Creed said that live exports play a vital role in stimulating price competition and provide an alternative market outlet for farmers, while the on-going search for new markets is a priority for my Department, particularly in the context of Brexit.

"In 2018, up to November 10 over 227,000 head of cattle were exported. This is a 30pc increase on the period last year," he said.

Exports to other EU countries significantly increased this year over the same period last year (January to 10 November). The largest export market for cattle was Spain with exports of 84,000 head (up from 49,000), followed by the Netherlands at 48,000 (41,000 in 2017) and Italy at 23, 000 (up from 19,000), Minister Creed detailed.

The prospects for live cattle exports remain very good and his Department continues to engage with third countries and to seek out new markets for live exports.

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"With regard to animal welfare, inspections by my Department ensure that the highest animal welfare standards are strictly complied with during transport of live cattle."

"Live exports to third countries have decreased this year, due in part to severe currency fluctuations in Turkey. Nevertheless, nearly 13,000 head of cattle were exported to Turkey to date this year."

Recent agreement with the Libyan authorities on veterinary health certs for the export of breeding, fattening and slaughter cattle, he said should also provide much more clarity for exporters, as previously exports of breeding cattle to Libya had to be agreed on a load- by-load basis.

Agreement was reached on an increase in the age of cattle that can be exported to Libya, from 24 to 30 months – this increases opportunities for exporters to export a wider range of cattle. Live exports to Libya more than doubled (from 1,830 to 4, 489) this year to date compared to the same period last year.

The Department, he said, has put additional controls on calf exports to ensure the highest welfare standards for unweaned calves. Departmental officials visited control posts in Cherbourg in September in this regard and are engaging with live exporters. DAFM officials have met with the ferry companies in relation to calf exports.

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