The Department of Agriculture has said it was “extraordinarily disappointing” to read some of the commentary over the weekend in relation to the efforts made to facilitate live exports late last week.
On Sunday, IFA president Tim Cullinan said that farmers have expressed frustration about a lack of co-operation from a small number of Department of Agriculture officials in the loading of a live export ship bound for Algeria earlier last week.
The association said it was unacceptable that live exports would be held up by Department bureaucracy.
The work that these people do ensures that the regulatory and administrative functions required to ... facilitate livestock sales and to keep live exports moving continues
A spokesperson for the Department said while there were technical issues that led to difficulties on the day in question, “the Department’s staff worked tirelessly, in some cases for 20 hours straight, to resolve them, so that the export could go ahead".
“Of course, there are lessons to be learned, but despite all of the difficulties in this case, the export proceeded on the day intended, thanks to the dedication of the staff involved."
“In the meantime, it might be useful to reflect on the essential work that these people do. It might also be worth reflecting on how farmers are well served by the 'bureaucracy' that ensures this vital trade can take place in a manner that ensures that the animal health and welfare requirements, that are quite properly a precondition for it, are correctly regulated.
“Without such regulation, any very short-term advantage that might accrue to very few would be significantly outweighed by the long-term damage to farmers generally,” the spokesperson said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all sectors of Irish and global society, the spokesperson added.
“The Department’s staff has worked both domestically and internationally to support agriculture through this most difficult of periods.
"In circumstances where many parts of the economy are necessarily in lockdown, the work that these people do ensures that the regulatory and administrative functions required to keep food processors up and running, to facilitate livestock sales and to keep live exports moving, continues. Without this work, these activities would cease altogether.
“The Department applauds its frontline staff, who in the midst of this crisis continue to provide a first-class service to the Irish agri-food sector.”