Capacity of replacement ferry to carry calves for export ‘remains an issue’

The capacity of the recently-confirmed replacement ferry to carry calves for live export remains an issue, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) Beef chairman Edmund Graham.

He welcomed the news that the replacement ship had been given the green light to carry calves to the continent, while the Stena Horizon goes into dry dock on February 20 for a period of approximately four weeks.

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“The ICSA met with department officials on this issue last week. At that point, there was still considerable uncertainty surrounding the replacement vessel so the efforts of all involved to sort this issue must be commended.”

“The capacity of the replacement ship remains an issue, as we don’t yet have clarification on the number of trucks it can carry.

If it does not have the capacity of the Horizon, we may have problems shipping the volumes necessary. At a time when we really want to be increasing our calf exports, all this confusion about the ship has been very unhelpful.

Recent developments were also welcomed by the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack.

He hopes the confirmation will ensure that Irish livestock – particularly calves – will be able to be shipped to waiting markets over the coming weeks.

McCormack noted that the peak calf trade is just about to commence and the announcement that shipping facilities have been secured gives the farmers “vital options” and should ensure a “higher floor price” for those calves.

The ICMSA president called on Bord Bia and live exporters to focus on maximising the benefits of this trade over the coming months.

Capacity to export calves a ‘critical issue’

Speaking prior to the confirmation of the replacement ship, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Joe Healy explained the capacity of the vessel to carry calves for live export was a “critical issue”.

The critical issue is that there must be no change in our ferry capacity to export calves during this critical period for farmers and exporters.

Meanwhile, the IFA’s National Livestock chairman, Angus Woods, said: “We need to see a significant increase in calf exports this year. With the increase in dairy cow numbers and strong market demand in both Holland and Spain, there is major potential for the trade”.

So far, both the department and Stena Line have been unwilling to comment on the finer details of the replacement vessel and exactly how many live export trucks it will be accommodate per sailing.