The head of the Waterford IFA has welcomed the announcement that Ireland is to begin exporting beef to China, but says farmers need to feel a return in their pockets.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed says after years of hard work, the Chinese authorities this morning confirmed access for Irish Beef exports.
They banned beef from the EU and US during the BSE crisis in 2000. That ban was officially lifted three years ago but trade still has not resumed.
China is Ireland’s third largest market, last year Ireland’s agri-food exports there were worth nearly a billion euro.
So far three factories have been fully approved and can begin exporting. These include the ABP plant in Clones in Co Monaghan, Donegal Meat Processors and Slaney Foods in Co Wexford.
Waterford IFA Chairman Kevin Kiersey says it cements Ireland’s reputation as a producer of quality meat. “It was great news to hear it this morning, that the market has reopened.” He added that “what’s important is the reputation it gives Irish beef – the fact that the Chinese are back buying Irish beef and that’s huge from a marketing point of view worldwide”.
He says farmers need to see improved returns once exports begin. “It will help farmers, their margin and their profit. As we know the beef industry, at a farming level, is under huge pressure at the moment, the returns are not good and we must see improved returns to keep them in business.”