Two ferries that had been scheduled to export dairy calves out of the country tomorrow (March 2) will now not carry livestock on board.

It has been confirmed to AgriLand that the Irish Ferries vessel – due to set sail from Dublin Port – and the Stena Line vessel – due to set sail from Rosslare Harbour, Co. Wexford – will no longer carry livestock due to predicted gale-force weather conditions.

Exporters have been informed that their livestock consignments – which were destined for Cherbourg Port in France – will no longer be allowed for health and safety reasons.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has this evening come under pressure from exporters to draw up a contingency plan to deal with the escalating situation and increased backlog.

With further wet and windy weather conditions expected next Tuesday (March 5) – the next scheduled sailing day – exporters also fear that a serious crunch period is looming.

‘Contingency Plan’

Seamus Scallan of Wicklow Calf Company is urging the department to push for the opening of the Abbeville Port in France so that surplus calves can be facilitated in its lairage space.

This comes following increasing concerns over the limited 4,000 head lairage capacity for Ireland’s dairy calves at Cherbourg Port.

Scallan said: “There is no boat tomorrow for the calves and the weather is looking extremely bad for Tuesday. There is no contingency plan in place and we need one today.

“Even if we get the backlog of trucks out on Tuesday there is no room at the lairage in Cherbourg.

The department must speak to the French authorities and get them to open up other lairage at Abbeyville – four hours away – even as a once off.

“The Government must make a plan with the French government to open this lairage and take our calves. If not, numbers will rollover.

“Now there are 4,000 extra calves. If the boat doesn’t sail on Tuesday then there will be a backlog of 8,000 extra calves.

There are about 20,000 calves ready to go all the time now, but they can’t get on the boat.

“They need to open it up now and I am calling on all sides of the Government to take action on this to get our calves out or we’re looking at another crisis,” he said.