Animal welfare groups slam IFA’s call to increase live animal exports

Published by Sorcha McManigan on

January 9th, 2018

International animal welfare groups have slammed the “disgraceful” calls from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) to increase the live export of Irish livestock in 2018.

The comments come in response to calls from the IFA’s National Livestock Chairman, Angus Woods at a Bord Bia seminar on live exports in Tullamore, Co Offaly yesterday.

Mr Woods said that the Minister of Agriculture, Michael Creed must “put all the necessary resources in place” to facilitate an increase in exports.

The IFA also met with senior officials from the Department of Agriculture to discuss transport options for the export of livestock.

Stena Line is due to service their existing vessel used to transport live exports and the IFA want to ensure that a replacement ship is available for peak export weeks in February and March.

“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,” Mr Woods said.

‘Horrendous Journeys’

However, according to Emma Slawinski, Director of Campaigns at Compassion in World Farming, the Irish Government should instead take action to stop live exports and save animals from “horrendous journeys” to both EU and non-EU countries.

“It is disgraceful that the Irish Farmers Association wants to increase live Irish animal exports in 2018,” Ms Slawinski added.

“Thousands of vulnerable Irish animals are set to suffer on these long journeys in horrific conditions, which our investigations into live exports from EU to non-EU countries have repeatedly shown.”

In the past few years, several cases of live Irish cattle exports have documented breaches of EU animal welfare regulations in both France and Turkey.

In March, MEPs called for a European Parliament inquiry into the treatment of live exports to non-EU states after revelations from a two-year investigation by AWF, Animals International, and Tierschutzbund Zurich (TSB).

The animal right groups documented the transport of cattle and sheep to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt, uncovering transport and slaughter methods routinely in breach of EU regulations and international standards.

The Irish live export market grew by 30 per cent last year to 187,870 heads. Over 30,000 animals were sent to Turkey in 2017, up  58 per cent from the previous year.

Michael Creed, Minister, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Ireland
Photo: Aron Urb

Minister ‘part of the problem’ 

According to Gabriel Paun of Animals International, Minister Creed has “become a part of the problem himself” by recently reducing calves export taxes by 400 per cent.

Last year, Minister Creed lowered the veterinary bills on calves exports from €4.80 to €1.20 per head, with Mr Woods describing the decision as a “major boost” to trade at yesterday’s meeting.

Mr Paun told The Green News that any increase in exports to non-EU countries will show that shows Ireland “never learns from its past mistakes”.

“If Ireland will choose to enlarge the avenue of live exports it will be just a matter of time until our investigators will bring to light new evidence of suffering and breaching EU laws,” Mr Paun added.

Mr Paun also warned that Ireland would also be taking a “highly risky avenue” for the national economy by increasing exports due to the “volatile and highly unstable” nature of the live export market.

“As soon as a disease will occur or another exporting country will be more competitive, the Irish exports will face closed doors and will crash again,” Mr Paun added.

The Green News contacted both the IFA and the Department of Agriculture for comment but did not receive a reply at the time of publication.

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Sorcha McManigan

Sorcha has a Degree Honours in Journalism with French from DIT and is passionate about social issues and radio production