A postponed shipment of Irish cattle to Algeria is set to go ahead before the end of the week, according to one of the groups involved in the sourcing of the animals.

In a statement, Emerald Isle Beef Producers (EIBP), which supplied around 600 cattle to the last boat to Algeria, said recent technical difficulties between the Department of Agriculture and the exporters had been ironed out.

Exporters Roundwood Park Livestock and Premium Livestock had been due to ship up to 1,300 bulls and steers on Friday 15 May. However, they were unable to meet, in time, some conditions of the export health certificate and its protocols.

Having returned from Algeria, the Sarah M livestock carrier has been moored off the Waterford coast awaiting the second shipment.

Stalemate

EIBP chair Eamonn Corley said: “Stalemate had developed between the Irish Department of Agriculture and the shipping company as regards procedures to be followed for the shipment.

“The impasse came to a head during the week when the shipping company, facing birthing charges of tens of thousands of euro per day, made the decision to ship the cattle out of France rather than Ireland.”

The loss of the contract would have been a damaging blow to competition for finished cattle in Ireland, Corley said.

Payment

A number of farmers also faced issues with delayed payment after the last shipment. However, Corley said this issue had now been resolved and farmers would be guaranteed a transfer of money after cattle were weighed in New Ross mart.

“Being able to plan ahead and feed bulls to their potential without the need to check weights and age on a weekly basis would be a big plus for beef finishers. Farmers now need to pull together and support this shipment and make sure enough cattle are supplied to fill it,” Corley said.

He praised work done by the exporter and the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his Department to find a workable solution to facilitate the shipment. The co-operation of all farm organisations in their support for live exports was also acknowledged.

Welcomed

The resolution of the issues which delayed the export of cattle was welcomed by IFA president Tim Cullinan.

“It would have been a spectacular own goal if this ship had not left Ireland with cattle,” Cullinan said. “It’s disappointing that we had these issues, but I welcome the fact they have now been resolved.”

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden added that it was important farmers were paid on the day for the cattle they deliver.

"We understand that commitments have been given in this regard, but farmers need to be clear what the precise arrangements are,” he concluded.

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