The live export trade has grown substantially in recent years as incomes dwindle in the domestic market, with the Minister for Agriculture recently calling the trade “a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry”.
Animal welfare groups have called for a ban on the trade over the conditions for animals - including calves - transported over long journeys via land and ferry in livestock trucks to Europe and further afield.
Issues highlighted in recent years include overcrowding of animals on transport vehicles, unweaned calves going unfed for long periods, and insufficient rest times on long journeys. Animal welfare groups have also raised alarm over methods of slaughter in key non-EU destination countries such as Turkey and Libya.
In 2018, Compassion in World Farming issued a formal complaint to the European Commission, calling on it to start infringement procedures against Ireland for failing to enforce EU regulations since the late 1990s.
The Department of Agriculture has said that all shipments comply with legislation and it was recently charged with providing “additional resources to monitor welfare standards” by the new Government.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We will examine case study evidence gathered by animal welfare groups in Ireland and mainland Europe of recent animal welfare issues and how the State has acted on concerns raised.
We will speak with animal welfare groups in popular destination countries for Irish livestock outside of Europe to gauge the concerns for animal welfare documented there.
We will use Freedom of Information requests to understand how the Department of Agriculture operates its risk-based and random inspection regime and what action is taken in cases of non-compliance.
In 2019, animal exports brought in €167 million, with farming lobby groups and farming representative groups and several rural TDs have pushed for an expansion of the market. We will speak to agri-food researchers and economists to find out if the live export trade is vital to the survival of the livestock industry in Ireland and why.
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