The Northern Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society has responded to a DEFRA consultation on the issue of the live export of animals.
Speaking after the submission was submitted Branch Chairman Joe Stewart said they had wanted to make it clear to DEFRA that Ireland branch members are fully committed to animal welfare and indeed members spend a fortune ensuring that their sheep are well looked after and that they comply fully with the existing extensive regulations governing the live transportation of animals.
He added: “While we do not support any weakening of the existing regulations we do not see that there is any need for further restrictions and are of the view that any suggestion that there should be a total ban on the live export of sheep would be a disaster for the Northern Ireland sheep farmers as a whole and for members here of the Suffolk Sheep Society in particular.
“While our primary markets are in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland the last two years have seen a massive upswing in demand for rams and breeding sheep from much further afield. Continental sheep breeders have recognised the easy fleshing, hardy nature of Suffolk sheep and have decided to invest heavily in Suffolks. Realising that some of the best genetics are to be found in Northern Ireland my members have in the last few months hosted buyers from Belgium, France the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and in the last week or so Romania as they sought out the best quality breeding stock,” added Mr Stewart.
“These are high value exports transported with the greatest professionalism and care and any restriction on this trade would be ruinous in circumstances where farm incomes are already under severe pressure.
“Sheep already exported have without exception arrived at their destinations in top shape to the delight and satisfaction of the purchasers with rams fit to go to ewes and in lamb ewes lambing down successfully. Proof if proof were needed of the efficacy of existing regulation,” he concluded.