Warning of risk to €150m live export trade from change in law

THE country’s €150 million live export trade could be lost due to new animal transport laws proposed by the European Commission, it was claimed yesterday.

Delegates to the European Association of Livestock Marts Conference in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny, were told that Ireland will suffer most if the proposed revision of the regulations is adopted.

Travel times, space allowances and navigation systems are to be readjusted in the revision, which was discussed by more than 130 delegates from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Scotland, England and France.

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, organisers of the two-day conference, warned that the proposals could have a serious on the live export trade from Ireland

Ray Doyle, the society’s livestock and environmental services executive, said these could lead to the elimination of almost all live exports.

“If we removed live exports, the competition for animals would obviously diminish and farmers would be the ultimate losers as prices for good quality cattle would fall,” he said.

Mr Doyle said the domestic transportation of animals would also be affected negatively by this proposal as the stocking densities on Irish hauliers would also have to be decreased by almost 30% in certain cases.

“This could impact on the trade of animals in the marts as the cost of transportation could increase dramatically, possibly pushing animals out of marts altogether.

“In addition to this, it has also been proposed to include an animal’s time spent on mart premises in its total transport time.”

Meanwhile, IFA Livestock Committee chairman Michael Doran said the live export trade has the potential to reach 250,000 head this year, driven by increased demand in Italy and Spain.

He predicted the European Commission will find it very difficult to get backing from EU member states for its unscientific proposals on stocking densities and travel times.

“The current proposals are a non-runner and would do irreparable damage to the Irish live export trade. Ireland cannot be denied access to the EU single market for our live cattle,” he said.

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