A farm group has requested a renewed effort towards a full reopening of access for Irish beef to China.
The ICMSA’s appeal comes as Ireland approaches the first anniversary of China’s suspension of Irish beef imports.
According to Des Morrison, chairperson of the association’s livestock committee, farmers and processors alike want to know how much progress had been made towards the full reopening that he is “categorically required”.
Irish beef to China
“Next week marks a full year since the Chinese Government suspended beef imports from Ireland due to an atypical BSE case in a 14-year-old animal.”
“At the time, and on several occasions since, we have been assured that the matter is progressing towards resolution and the re-opening that Ireland’s beef sector requires.”
“ICMSA does not think anyone can accuse farmers of being impatient on this question. But, at this stage, we think that an update is required.”
“Farmers need to hear from the departments and agencies concerned where the negotiations are at, and when can we expect the Chinese market to be re-opened to Irish beef?” said Mr. Morrison.
The ICMSA livestock chairperson stressed that farmers understood that – where talks are ongoing – it is difficult to be exact in terms of a reopening.
But Mr. Morrison was confident that it should be possible to supply some picture of how matters were proceeding and when, approximately, the Irish sector could expect matters to be brought to a successful conclusion.
“We’d like to know because we need to know. We see this market reopening as a matter of priority”, said Mr. Morrison.
Negligible risk for BSE
In March of this year, the World Health Organisation’s (OIE) Scientific Commission for Animal Disease has concluded that Ireland now fulfils the requirements to be recognised as having a negligible risk for BSE.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue T.D welcomed the recent announcement.
Minister McConalogue said: “This is a most welcome and very significant step forward towards Ireland achieving negligible risk status in respect of BSE, affirming the robustness of Ireland’s animal health, food and feed safety controls and providing further independent affirmation in the international marketplace of the strength of Ireland’s control systems.”
At the time, McConalogue said two further steps are needed before this status is officially recognised.