Irish Farmer's Association (IFA) President, Joe Healy, has told Agriculture Minister Michael Creed that he needs to prioritise live trade in order to double export numbers in 2019.
At a meeting in Portlaoise with live exporters, Healy said exporters highlighted a number of issues which must be addressed.
"A strong live export trade is absolutely essential for the price in competition in the cattle trade and for providing major market outlets, especially for calves and weanlings," said Mr Healy.
"IFA has made it very clear to Minister Creed that he cannot allow the European Union to restrict Irish live exports to the EU single market and under no circumstances can he accept any reduction in the 29-day period”.
IFA National Livestock Chairman, Angus Wood, said live exports reached 246,000 head in 2018, with 158,000 of those being calves.
Spain was the main export market, taking 92,000 head, followed by the Netherlands at 46,000.