‘Appalling’: Ulster cattle farmers to miss out on milestone show in England thanks to Irish Sea border rules

Hundreds of Northern Irish cattle breeders are going to miss out on a major red letter day in the farming calendar – the 50th anniversary show for the British Limousin Cattle Society.

By Adam Kula
Friday, 13th May 2022, 7:17 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th May 2022, 12:36 pm

Due to take place in July in Carlisle in northern England, it will mark half-a-century since the now-dominant breed arrived in the UK.

But due to the Irish Sea border, many Ulster farmers will be forced to stay at home.

That’s because the regulations around moving cattle across the Irish Sea mean that whilst Northern Irish farmers can bring animals to England, Scotland and Wales to exhibit and sell, they cannot bring them back again.

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Limousin cattle only arrived in the UK in significant numbers in 1971, but are now the UK’s number one beef breed (picture from British Limousin Cattle Society)

Instead, before they can cross back on the roughly two-hour, 45-mile Irish Sea journey, they must first remain in GB for six months.

That is the situation as set out by Mr Harry Parker, the chairman of the British Limousin Cattle Society.

He said there are 500 or so members in Northern Ireland, and that this problem has been causing them and other cattle breeders headaches for roughly the last 18 months or so.

In a word, he dubbed it “appalling”.

Mr Parker, who was at the first two days of the Balmoral Show, said: “The problem is getting them back. It’s all to do with Brexit.

“They can come over, they can be sold, shown, but they cannot go back...

“There’s six months over here before they can actually go back to Northern Ireland.

“But it’s also the other way round. Northern Irish breeders cannot buy from this side of the water without them going into like quarantine for six months.

“Whereas racehorses and that can go backwards and forwards in a day! It is bizarre and it’s putting our Northern Irish members at a disadvantage.”

He said the 50th anniversary show in Carlisle was put off for a year by the pandemic.

“Normally a lot of Northern Irish animals come over to be shown at the big event, it’s very prestigious.

“And it just cannot happen this year. They are not going to bring their best show animals, their pride and joy, over to this side, to then have them held up here for six months before they go back.”

The cost of doing so would be “astronomical”, he said.

“We’ve been looking at whether there’s any way around this, and there’s no simple way at all. So NI are going to do their own celebration show.

“I find it appalling. We all do. It’s appalling. It is penalising our members in Northern Ireland.”

The Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs was asked to comment, but said nothing at time of writing.

The UK 50th anniversary show will be from July 28 to 31 in Borderway Mart, Rosehill, Carlisle.

For all anniversary enquiries, contact Will Ketley at [email protected]

The NI show will be on August 20 at Ballymena Livestock Market (more details available via Facebook).

For any queries, e-mail: [email protected]

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