The pertinent views of two local authority elected representatives allowed for a difference of opinion as the issue of livestock exports was discussed at a recent monthly meeting of the Athlone Moate Municipal District.
Raising the motion, Cllr. Tom Farrell, called upon the Municipal District to afford full support to the farmers of Westmeath to ensure that the Government will support live exports of cattle to various countries in the world, noting that ceasing such activity would have a “detrimental and destructive effect” on the agriculture industry within the county.
“The export of cattle and other livestock is very well licenced under EU guidelines and should support not be forthcoming there will be many jobs lost in this sector,” Cllr. Farrell stated.
During 2019, Cllr. Farrell confirmed that 25,042 cattle were exported from County Westmeath. This figure was complemented by the export of 90,193 pigs, 62,523 poultry, 1,988 sheep and 181 horses.
Supporting the motion, Cllr. John Dolan, spoke of the quality in livestock being exported from the county on a regular basis.
“Our livestock, not alone in County Westmeath, but throughout the country, is the most sought after produce being exported to mainland Europe and beyond. Under legislation, there is a duty of care afforded to all exported livestock before they arrive at their ultimate destination.
“The demand is there for our livestock product and we are inspected on an 18 month basis to ensure to ensure that we are maintaining high standards in this regard,” Cllr. Dolan remarked.
Offering her differing view, Cllr. Louise Heavin stated that she could not support the motion as it appeared, stressing the view that there was no control of animal welfare once it left the EU.
“We have heard of heartbreaking stories pertaining to animals which have been exported to countries outside the EU, those that have died in transit. I believe that it is a small market for Irish livestock moving outside of the EU, but we must always consider the welfare of our animals prior to their export,” Cllr. Heavin stressed.
Reiterating his view on the issue, Cllr. Dolan noted that all animals were “well vetted” before exportation and requested that a letter be issued by the Municipal District executive to the relevant Minister noting the topic of conversation.
Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, addressed the positive work enacted by the Bóthar charity in donating live animals for export to the poorer countries in the world, his views receiving the full support of Cllr. Dolan.