Export of Irish calves and weanlings to EU markets will not be affected by a ban on livestock exports from England and Wales, proposed last week by the British government.
Irish exporters have not used the UK landbridge route to the continent to any significant extent for nearly a decade, taking direct sea routes to France instead. The UK’s environment secretary George Eustice announced the ban on export of livestock for fattening and slaughter, saying it could be in force by the end of 2021. After Brexit, the UK government would be able to set its own rules on this matter, he said.
However, it appears that livestock exports from Northern Ireland will be able to continue. A UK newspaper quoted the UK’s ministry of agriculture and food as saying that Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU legislation on animal welfare in transport for as long as the Northern Ireland Protocol is in place.
Up to 30,000 calves and weanlings are exported each year from Northern Ireland to EU markets, with Spain a major buyer. Most of these are exported via the Republic on ferries from Rosslare and Dublin.
Irish exporters and farmers will be concerned that a ban by England and Wales will encourage pressure groups in other European countries to continue lobbying
The UK government will now hold an eight-week public consultation on its proposals. These are expected to include wider restrictions on livestock transport, including reduced journey times within the UK.
Irish exporters and farmers will be concerned that a ban by England and Wales will encourage pressure groups in other European countries to continue lobbying for further restrictions on livestock exports.