Live cattle exports resume to Libya after 17 years
Almost 3,000 cattle departed for Libya last night in the first live shipment of cattle to the country since it banned imports from the EU in 1996.
Some 500 young bulls were loaded on the Al Mahmoud Express ship in Waterford port yesterday, joining 2,400 others loaded earlier in the week. The cattle were bought through marts and directly from farms in recent weeks.
Libya was a valuable market for Irish live cattle exports in the past, taking 81,420 cattle valued at more than €70 million in 1995. However, in 1996 Libya banned beef imports from the EU because of the BSE outbreak.
Department of Agriculture officials inspected and approved the Al Mahmoud Express in recent weeks and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney welcomed the resumption of the trade.
IFA president John Bryan visited the port yesterday, and said a strong live export trade was “absolutely essential” for the €2 billion Irish beef and livestock sector. It increased cattle price competition and provided new market outlets for extra cattle in the system.
“This is a significant development for the Irish livestock sector with the resumption of live exports to north Africa for the first time in 18 years.”
Animal welfare groups have expressed concern about the resumption of the trade.