Calf export trade hit with delays at some EU borders

The country’s calf export trade is experiencing delays at some border crossings, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has stated.

While the department is in constant communication with member states, the EU’s response to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic – to close its external borders for 30 days, with the exception of priority access for food and other essential goods – is causing some difficulties.

In a statement to AgriLand on how the current situation is impacting on Ireland’s calf export trade – some 10,352 head of beef and dairy-bred calves left Ireland destined for European destinations as of the week ending Sunday, March 15 – a spokesperson said:

“Currently there are no official restrictions on the movement of animals, however, the department has been made aware of delays at some border crossings.

“These issues have been communicated to exporters.

The department will monitor the situation closely and maintain communication with exporters and ferry companies.

“Currently calf exports are proceeding as normal, but the situation is fluid and will be kept under constant review,” the statement said.

Animal transporters are obliged by the European Animal Transport Regulation to have contingency plans in place in the event of emergencies en route, such that the welfare of the animals under their care is protected.

The department says it has reminded all transporters of their obligations in this regard and provided them with the list of “Control Posts” in Europe where animals can be rested in the event of unforeseen stoppages.

In addition, the department outlined that veterinary authorities of other countries are empowered to take emergency measures to prevent suffering of animals in transit.

Pressure builds

Yesterday, Thursday, March 19, three leading European agricultural sector bodies warned of delays and disruption at country borders – that are impacting on the delivery of certain agricultural and manufactured products.

The statement was issued on behalf of FoodDrinkEurope; CELCAA (which deals with European agri-food trade); and COPA-COGECA (which represents EU farming co-operatives).

The organisations are urging the commission to work with member states to explore ways to support the agri-food sector “which has already, and will continue to, come under immense financial pressure”.