Calls made for Government to charter ‘walk-on, walk-off’ livestock vessel

The Irish Livestock Stakeholders’ Association has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to increase the number of chartered ‘walk-on, walk-off’ livestock ships available in the country.

In a statement issued to AgriLand, the association outlined that it would like to see the vessel become available to smaller exporting organisations that could come together “to protect themselves and Irish farmers”.

The statement explained: “If cooperation between exporters is achieved, the introduction of a dedicated shared ‘walk-on, walk-off’ livestock vessel is possible.”

The association believes that this venture would create more competition at the ringside while maximising the volumes of calves moving out of the country.

The statement further outlined that a Government-chartered ship “would aid in avoiding bottleneck issues that were experienced last spring and prevent ‘large players’ controlling exports and dictating prices”.

One of the association’s members – Wicklow Calf Company’s James Scallan – pointed out that live cattle exports “are vital to the Irish beef and dairy industry”.

He outlined: “In an industry where beef processors have the monopoly, exporting cattle creates more competition domestically which increases prices and benefits the farmer.”

The association

The Irish Livestock Stakeholders’ Association held its first meeting in Arklow, Co. Wicklow on Monday, November 18.

The vision of the new association is “to protect domestic farmers”.

The forum was organised by Seamus Scallan of Wicklow Calf Company. The new association’s motto states: ‘This organisation is built on the welfare of animals.’

Scallan has expressed concerns that in recent years, “the export industry is heading the direction of few, larger companies which dominate the market”.

Concluding, he noted: “One aspect of the business that already mirrors this dominance by one or two companies is the ‘walk-on, walk-off ships’ and a Government-chartered ship would help combat this.”