Emergency meeting requested to address calf export ‘blockage’

A meeting has been requested to address “the growing crisis” which is seeing calf exports being limited approaching the spring season.

Fianna Fail spokesperson on agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, has written to the chair of the Agricultural Committee, Pat Deering, to hold the meeting.

Deputy McConalogue criticised the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and his department, saying: “Little is being done by the minister or his department to ensure there is enough capacity to meet the growing numbers of exports of calves to Cherbourg, France.

With time limits on the transporting of cattle; we need extra capacity on lairage areas close to Cherbourg Port.

McConalogue explained: “At present, capacity is maxed at 4,000 calves at a time. With three sailings per week this means 12,000 calves can be exported a week.

“We are extremely restricted at peak times and Irish farmers are bearing the costs.

We need to ensure every possible dairy bull calf is exported if we can over the next number of weeks.

“Estimates have shown that we could get up to 300,000 calves out of the country at calf-stage.

“There is expected to be substantial growth this spring as dairy farmers nationwide continue to grow their herds.”

The Donegal TD called on the minister to recognise that “the beef sector is in crisis”.

“If the minister does not act we will see prices go through the floor again unless we work hard to have as many dairy bull calves exported over the next eight to 12 weeks.”

Concluding, deputy McConalogue said: “The minister must act now to ensure there is no limit on calf exports over the next number of months.”