IFA national livestock chairman Angus Woods said Ireland needed to target an additional 100,000 head of live exports for 2018.
He called on Ireland’s agriculture minister Michael Creed to ensure the country’s live animal exporters had access to full ferry facilities during the peak weeks when calves, cattle and lambs are sold.
Speaking at a livestock export seminar hosted by Bord Bía, Creed said continued market access was “absolutely critical”, adding: “It must be of the highest priority to minister Creed that the new arrangements can deal with our live exports and shipping requirements during this peak export period.
“Minister Creed, who is supportive of the live trade, needs to put all the necessary resources in place to facilitate a live trade of an additional 100,000 head of live animals.”
Shipping route disruption
IFA said it would meet with senior officials from Ireland’s Department of Agriculture to discuss ferry and access issues that have reportedly raised concern amongst the country’s livestock exporters.
The concern is in part attributed to the fact that Stena Line – one of the world’s biggest ferry operators that carries Irish cattle all over the world – will service its current vessel in February and March.
While Stena is set to replace this ship with another vessel on a temporary basis, IFA wants the Irish government to provide assurances that the shipping arrangements will not affect what could be a strong year for business.
Irish exports of live animals increased by 30% to 187,870 head last year, according to the IFA. Calf sales were particularly strong after the government cut charges on calf exports from €4.80 to €1.20 per head.
Markets of interest for Irish live exports include Spain, Turkey and a string of countries in North Africa.
The Ministry of Agriculture could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.