Kevin Kinsella, IFA director of livestock and IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods viewing the loading of a boat of cattle going to Turkey recently.
Speaking at the Bord Bia Live Export seminar in Tullamore yesterday, IFA National Livestock Chairperson, Angus Woods, said Ireland needs to target an additional 100,000 head of live exports for 2018.
Live export market demand for calves will be strong this year and it is essential that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed ensures we have full ferry facilities in place during the peak export weeks. Stena line are due to service their existing vessel, which will go into dry-dock in February/March and replace it with an alternative ship.
Mr Woods said, "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. Market access is absolutely critical.”
The IFA livestock leader said IFA is meeting with senior Department of Agriculture officials today on the ferry and access issues and he expected to see progress on the issue over the next two weeks.
2017 was good year for live exports with numbers up 30% at 187,870 head. Calf exports were strong at 101,600 and weanling exports reached 59,200 head. The reduction in charges by Minister Creed on calf exports from €4.80 to €1.20 per head has also been a major boost to the trade.
The Dutch veal market looks much more positive for 2018 with strong demand due to a reduction in the dairy herd and stronger white veal and rose veal prices. In addition, milk replacer prices are also very competitive.
Mr Woods said the Spanish market also looks promising for 2018 with rising beef prices and growing demand in North Africa.
Irish exporters sent 30,562 animals to Turkey in 2017 and Mr woods said, with our growing breeding cow herd, we need to recalibrate our targets on live exports.
"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," he said.