Multi-million euro exports of live cattle may be impacted by potential new disease restrictions on a key Continental route, a key industry body has warned.
Animal Health Ireland (AHI), which was set up to help improve the health of the country's beef and dairy herds, said French moves to introduce a programme to tackle the infectious respiratory disease IBR could impact Irish exports travelling through the busy Cherbourg port.
AHI's chief executive Joe O'Flaherty said they have "intelligence" that the French are looking to introduce restrictions which would put the Irish exports at "risk".
"About 34pc of Irish live exports either have France as the destination," he said at the launch of AHI's strategic plan for 2015-2017, which highlighted improvements made in tackling diseases in the Irish herd.
"Or they transit to through France on their way to Spain and Italy," he said.
Live exports rose 8pc to €172m last year, yet the latest figures show exports so far this year have fallen 98pc to Belgium, which introduced increased IBR disease transport regulations.
However, Bord Bia stated it had been assured by French authorities exports to other regions would not be impacted.
"All our exports to Netherlands, Spain and Italy must transit through France en route to market but the French vet authorities have assured us that their plans will not cause disruption to our exports to the other countries," a spokeswoman for Bord Bia said.
Mr O'Flaherty said there was a cost-benefit analysis being carried out on bringing in an IBR eradication programme in Ireland.