Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, said he is committed to retaining the live export market.
He believes it is an “integral part” of the dairy and beef sectors, playing a “key” role in driving competition.
The minister remarked following the ANIT committee’s vote earlier this month.
MEPs passed two amendments:
- A ban on the transport of pregnant animals in the last third of gestation;
- Time limits of two hours for unweaned animals older than 35 days. A ban on all transport under 35 days.
The minister believes that if the ANIT committee’s recommendations are fully implemented, it would be “particularly challenging”.
This report will next be presented to a plenary session of the European Parliament in January, seeking endorsement by the parliament.
Live export market
The European Commission is currently reviewing European animal welfare legislation, including the rules for the transport of animals.
According to McConalogue, a review by the Commission will result in legislative proposals, which are expected in 2023.
“It can be expected that the report of the ANIT Committee will feed into this review,” the minister said.
“The Commission has repeatedly said, however, that legislative proposals will be made on the basis of the best available scientific evidence. It is vital that this will be the case.”
He said the DAFM will continue to engage with this process to “communicate the challenges” these recommendations will place on Irish farmers.
“Teagasc is currently engaged in research in relation to the welfare of animals being transported. The outcome of this scientific research will help to inform the debate in this area.”
“It is essential, however, that stakeholders in the Irish agriculture sector take note of these findings. Societal attitudes to animal welfare and the welfare of animals during transport is continually evolving.”
He believes it is important that stakeholders further advance their collaborative efforts to ensure “the welfare of all animals transported, mitigate the risk of any sector being overly dependent on live exports and continue to develop strategies that support the transition to a sustainable dairy-beef sector”.
He said the DAFM “strictly” regulation animal exports in accordance with existing EU law.
“The Irish system of controls is publicly acknowledged to have incorporated additional meaningful measures that ensure high standards of animal welfare on-farm, and at every stage during transport,” he concluded.
The minister provided the above information in response to a parliamentary question from deputy Michael McNamara.