Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has reiterated the importance of live animal exports.
He said they play an “important” part in stimulating price competition and providing alternative market outlets for farmers.
“The Irish agricultural sector highly values them for this reason. Live exports, however, are only possible with the highest of animal welfare standards during transport.”
The minister made the remarks in response to a parliamentary question from Paul Murphy, a Dublin South-West representative.
Murphy asked the minister if he has taken into account concern for animals’ welfare once they arrive in China.
In response, Minister McConalogue said:
“EU legislation allows for these journeys to take place as long as these standards are adhered to throughout the journey, including those parts that lie outside the European Union.”
The minister stated that while the trade-in and the export of animals is a private commercial activity, it is “heavily regulated” by European Law, which his department enforces.
“All live export shipments from Ireland are conducted in full compliance with legislative requirements.”
“All proposed journeys must be notified to the Regional Veterinary Office in advance. Veterinary certification will only be provided where the journey complies with all animal transport and animal welfare regulations.”
He highlighted this includes a requirement to notify the Regional Veterinary Office of the journey’s outcome once completed and animals’ condition on arrival.
“I readily acknowledge the genuine concerns expressed by animal protection organisations in Ireland about standards of animal welfare in countries outside the EU.”
McConalogue continued: “My department, in cooperation with our EU partners, works closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to improve animal welfare practices worldwide.”
The OIE is the global standard-setting body relating to animal health and animal welfare. “It is through this forum that we influence standards in other countries,” the minister added.
Ireland has been a member of the OIE European Platform Steering Committee on Animal Welfare since its creation in 2013.
It has offered financial support and technical inputs for developing the OIE Platform action plans, focusing on transport and slaughter.
“Regarding this particular trade opportunity, I would like to point out that these animals in question are high-value, high-genetic merit animals and as such are handled particularly carefully by their owners and transporters.”
“The EU has one of the highest standards in the world of animal welfare. Trade with the EU can be a stimulating factor for other countries to attain EU standards.”
“In summary, live exports are highly valued by Irish farmers. The department facilitates this commercial trade while ensuring that live animal exports meet the highest welfare standards,” he concluded.
Threats to Irish live animal exports
Earlier this week, Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher, said the Irish live animal export industry is coming under “intense scrutiny and pressure” in the European Parliament. Read this.