Coveney expects Libya to reopen to Irish beef

THE VALUABLE Libyan market for Irish and EU beef looks set to be reopened after a 16-year ban, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said yesterday.

He said he was optimistic that official confirmation of this would be received imminently.

Libya has been a valuable market for Irish live cattle exports in the past. In 1995 it took 81,420 cattle valued at more than €70 million. The business came to an abrupt stop in 1996 when Libya banned beef imports because of the BSE outbreak.

Mr Coveney said the progress on getting the market reopened reflected the intensive efforts over many years at political, diplomatic and technical level. It was also a recognition by the Libyan authorities of the quality and safety of Irish and EU beef, he said. He had recently written to the Libyan minister for agriculture to emphasise that Ireland applied the highest animal health standards and the strictest veterinary public health controls along the food chain.

Mr Coveney said the next step was to agree veterinary health certificates with the Libyan authorities that would set out the conditions under which the export of Irish beef could take place. It was hoped that these would be agreed soon.

Irish Farmers Association livestock chairman Henry Burns said the live cattle market to Libya and other Middle Eastern and north African countries was “extremely important” for Ireland’s €2 billion livestock sector.

(Source: The Irish Times)

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