Concerns grow over threat to calf exports

Concerns are growing among farmers over the lack of confirmation regarding a vessel to carry calves for export to the continent.

An immediate announcement on the state of Ireland’s live calf export facilities has been called for by the chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association’s (ICMSA’s) Livestock Committee Des Morrisson.

It is absolutely essential that a replacement shipping facility is secured and confirmed as soon as possible, as the Stena Horizon goes into dry dock for maintenance for a number of weeks during the calving season, Morrisson explained.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “There will be over 1.5 million calves born between now and the end of May and it absolutely essential that the shipping issue is resolved – and that an announcement is made publicly.

We have to know that we have the means and capacity to get our calves to the buyers and markets waiting for them.

“The ICMSA acknowledges the efforts made by both the industry and department on this matter; but, we want to know that the shipping issue has been resolved – because, that’s hugely important in terms of setting a floor price for calves this spring.

“There is a strong demand for our calves in the EU and there can’t be any questions or doubts about access to this market on the very cusp of this critical three-month period.

Des Morrisson, ICMSA
Des Morrisson, chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association’s (ICMSA’s) Livestock Committee

“A confirmation that adequate shipping facilities are in place must be made immediately,” Morrisson said.

Previously, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed that the department was in “active and ongoing discussions with shipping companies in relation to possible alternative options for carrying livestock trucks” during the period when the Stena Horizon will be unavailable.

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“As these involve commercial decisions on behalf of the companies involved, it is not appropriate for the department to comment further at this time,” the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Stena Line also previously explained that it has chartered a vessel as a temporary replacement ship for the Stena Horizon. But, fulfilling the necessary requirements to gain permission to carry live export trucks on the crossing has proved difficult.

Concluding, it added that it was working hard at the time to find a suitable solution.