October 5th, 2017
The Government’s plans to increase live animal exports will cause “unnecessary suffering” to our farm animals, a national animal rights organisation has said.
Caroline Rowley of Compassion Ireland was speaking after a debate in the Dáil debate on Tuesday in which both the beef industry and animal welfare were discussed.
Speaking at the session, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said that live exports have been a “significant feature” in 2017 and are a “critical export of the industry”.
Live cattle exports in the first nine months of 2017 almost doubled that from the same period of 2016 to over 158,000 heads of cattle. Of that number, 100,000 of the exports were calves.
Ms Rowley told The Green News that the live export of animals is an “archaic practice that causes unnecessary suffering”.
She said that her organisation was especially worried about exports to non-EU states, which rose dramatically from just 154 heads of cattle in 2016 to 19,029 in 2017.
The vast majority of exports have gone to Turkey, where the journey time is often two weeks, which Ms Rowley says can be “very stressful for animals” especially as there is “not always a vet on board”.
An eight-month undercover investigation by the Australian animal rights charity Animals International revealed footage of Irish cattle being unloaded at a Turkey port with hair thick with faeces after a two-week journey.
The Minister has said that his Department is focused on developing new links with the Middle East and Asian markets which include countries such as South Korea, China and Egypt.
Ms Rowley warned, however, that sending cattle to these countries increases the likelihood of animal welfare issues as animals exported to non-EU countries are not protected under EU animal rights protections.
She added that the Minister already recognised that there is an issue with standards in certain non-EU countries when he launched the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy in July.
Speaking at the time, Mr Creed said that department was working closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health in relation to their capacity building activities relating to the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter in third countries.
Compassion Ireland delivered a petition to Minister Creed last week signed by almost 23,000 people calling on the government to ban the live export of Irish farm animals.
Backing the petition, Green Party Spokesperson on Animal Welfare, Pippa Hackett said: “It’s high time the Irish government took a stand to stop this trade, and maintain high animal welfare standards for all our livestock, from birth and throughout their lives.”