As the busy calving season approaches for the dairy sector, farmers are reminded to prioritise their health and safety by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

The minister urged farmers to keep safe during the challenging season of monitoring cows around the clock.

Speaking to AgriLand at the Bord Bia Export Performance and Prospects report launch for 2019, the minister said:

“This is going to be a really challenging time on Irish farms and I would urge farmers in the context of the calving season ahead to prioritise their own personal care in that context – that’s really important in terms of farm safety.

It’s a challenging time – and I know the difficulties that are around in terms of access to labour and support on farms at that critical time. So I think personal safety is really important.

Minister Creed also commented on the critical importance of maintaining high welfare standards while exporting dairy calves out of the country, adding:

“Getting the maximum possible amount of calves from the dairy herd out of the country in terms of live exports is really critical and in so doing it’s imperative that we abide by the welfare regulations that exist, because we are facilitated in that trade by other member states through which we transit in that context.

And I’ve met with exporters, communicated with exporters, on that matter – because any breach of those regulations puts the entire export industry in the crosshairs of those who are not supportive of it.

“And we’ve had issues previously that haven’t been helpful to our endeavours to maintain and increase that trade, and we’re committed to that.”

The minister also commented on the ongoing industrial action being undertaken by temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) in meat plants around the country.

“This is an issue that is having an impact on our processing and slaughter plants.

“We would very much like to see this issue negotiated to a successful conclusion; we’ve always said we’re available – there are tentative contacts ongoing, and at this stage I would prefer not to comment in detail ahead of that – but there are contacts happening,” Minister Creed said.