Written answers

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Live Exports

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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329. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of live cattle exported to the UK in each of the years 2015 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9291/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The data requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below

Year Number of live cattle exported from Ireland to UK (Including NI)
2015 65,932
2016 31,403
2017 31,894
2018 30,103
2019 39,151
*2020 70,598

* Please note the 2020 figures are not yet finalised and may be subject to change

Source: AIM Division, DAFM

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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330. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of live sheep exported to the UK in each of the years 2015 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9292/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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The intra-EU movement of animals is recorded on the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES), which is the EU-wide online management tool for all sanitary and phytosanitary requirements on intra-EU trade and importation of animals, semen and embryo, food, feed and plants.

My Department uses the TRACES system to record all sheep movements in terms of both imports and exports for the purposes of slaughter, breeding and fattening between Ireland and all other jurisdictions.

The total number of live sheep exported from Ireland to the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) for the years 2016 – 2020 are listed below. It should be noted that records for sheep movements on the system are not available prior to 2016.

Year Number of live sheep exports to United Kingdom
2016 2,216
2017 1,123
2018 158
2019 312
2020 295

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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331. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the current situation for live cattle and sheep exports to the UK; the new restrictions in place post-Brexit; his views on whether this will impact on the number of exports or the prices offered to sellers; if he plans remedial measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9293/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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Trade in live animals is important to the livestock industry.

In the first instance, I can clarify that trade with Northern Ireland can continue as heretofore, subject to the same rules as applied in 2020.

Trade between Ireland and Great Britain (GB) has however been impacted on following the end of the Brexit transition period on 1st January 2021, when the UK adopted its own legislation with regard to import of animals, including rules relating to the transport of animals, including authorisations, approval and certificates of competence for drivers. The Department has carried out significant amount of work to substantially mitigate any impact on trade associated with these issues. My Department has now approved 176 UK vehicles, over 500 drivers and 76 transporters. Staff are working at full capacity and extra resources have been assigned to this area.

Further differences which impose additional challenges in trade with GB include a 40-day residency requirement prior to the export of cattle and sheep; animals also cannot have passed through a market but must be consigned directly from farm of origin or through an assembly centre. The department has worked hard to inform all operators of the new conditions with information notices and seminars.

By way of context, less than 1% of Ireland's sheep exports, and 2.4% of cattle exports, went to GB in 2020. Despite these relatively low numbers, the Department is committed to supporting this trade outlet. There is a tradition of high value breeding cattle and sheep sold each year from Ireland to buyers in GB.

Cattle exports to NI rose significantly in 2020 – reaching 64,000 from 34,000 in 2019. This may in some way reflect a reduced export market to Europe generally last year due to reduced demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with overall reduction of some 35,000 bovines from the 2019 figure. Market prospects are still uncertain for 2021 as demand will depend on level of confidence amongst European buyers in the anticipated progress of COVID-19 vaccination in Europe and return to dining out.

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