A strong live export trade for calves is essential for competition and to maintain a supply/demand balance in the Irish beef sector capable at delivering viable prices to farmers, Angus Woods of IFA has said.

Woods, Chairman of the National Livestock Committee, said that over recent weeks IFA has been working on various issues to assist the trade in 2017, including meetings with a number of the key exporters and the Department of Agriculture.

He said IFA had met with the Department on calf sales and exports for 2017.

“IFA has requested that the Department of Agriculture would reduce the fees of up to €7.00 per head charged on calf exports.

“This level of charges, made up of Department of Agriculture inspection and disease levies, as well as Bord Bia charges, are way too high relative to the value of the calf.”

It is completely unfair that a calf worth between €80 and €150 per head would have to pay the same level of charge as a finished animal going through a meat plant worth €1,400 per head.

The IFA livestock leader said IFA also met with Cork Marts, and while it was disappointing they were exiting the trade, the group has made some changes which will facilitate the sale and export of calves in 2017.

He said Cork Marts has agreed to provide a rebate of €1.50 per head to purchasers who buy over 100 calves in their group. In addition, they will reduce the costs on sellers by over half from €6.50 to €3.00 per head on up to 50 calves.

The National Livestock Chairman said IFA had worked hard in opening up the export trade to Turkey this year and this had proved critical to the weanling trade throughout the autumn.

He said the latest boat sailed to Turkey this week with weanlings.

It is vitally important that Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and his Department ensures that a strong live export trade to Turkey and other Middle East and North African destinations continues into 2017, Woods said.