The Chairman of the ICMSA Beef & Cattle Committee, Kevin Connolly, has urged Minister Coveney to move to a state of 'Red Alert' as the prospect of the EU introducing a whole raft of what Mr Connolly describes as 'superfluous' animal transport regulations and legislation begins to loom large. Mr Connolly said that the live export trade acts as a key pressure valve for Irish farmers without which competition for cattle would be seriously undermined and it is absolutely essential that the Irish live export trade was not undermined through unnecessary regulation and even more unnecessary cost.
At the Farm Council meeting in May, the issue of tougher legislation around animal transport was on the agenda, with Sweden , in particular, and Finland , Austria and the Netherlands pushing for tougher legislation. Ireland must reject any attempt to impose additional unnecessary regulations. The current regulations are set at an extremely high level and have been scientifically proven to work effectively. Another key indication of efficiency is that buyers of Irish cattle are very happy with the state of the animals when they arrive at their destination and the fact that over 339,000 cattle were exported live in 2010 is a testament that the system is working well and effectively", noted Mr Connolly.
"Live exports provided farmers with an extremely important outlet for cattle and ICMSA is deeply concerned that new regulations will be introduced that will add significant unnecessary costs on the sector. ICMSA's opinion is that the current animal transport legislation is perfectly effective and we acknowledge that it is in Ireland 's interest that cattle are transported in facilities of the highest standard. But it's also quite clear that our customers are happy with the manner in which present stock is being delivered to their destinations and ICMSA has, on a number of occasions, visited and inspected the facilities operated by our leading live exporters. These facilities meet every EU standards and can only be described as excellent. The live export levels will vary from year to year and act as a pressure valve for Irish farmers when prices are under pressure. Our cattle – both dairy and beef – have developed an excellent reputation and ICMSA is urging the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to move to a 'Red Alert' status and categorically reject any proposal that may undermine our live export levels", concluded Mr. Connolly.