Bord Bia has been called on to immediately ring-fence €5 million to develop EU markets for Irish dairy calves for next spring by Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) presidential election candidate Tim Cullinan.

Speaking ahead of the next election hustings, due to take place in Ballincollig, Co. Cork, this evening, Thursday, October 24, the Co. Tipperary farmer said:

“Commentators and so-called experts are creating panic amongst dairy farmers predicting a total collapse in bull calf prices next spring, and even raising a disposal problem for next March and April.

“What the industry should be focusing on is developing market outlets, based on consumer demand across Europe, and securing those markets through a targeted marketing strategy,” Cullinan added.

There is an enormous market for veal calves in Europe and, with the high health status and quality of Irish calves – we should be fighting for a share of that market and not resorting to fatalism.

“There is a long-term market in Europe and there is no reason why Ireland cannot supply that market,” he added.

Continuing, Cullinan noted that some six million calves are reared annually in the EU for veal production.

Of these, the Netherlands rear 1.5 million calves for veal, of which 850,000 are imported, he added.

France, Germany, Italy and Spain also have huge potential for Irish calves, the candidate said, adding that close to 10% of all beef consumption in the EU market is in veal form.

“I am calling on Bord Bia to immediately initiate a marketing programme, backed up with a substantial sum of €5 million, in conjunction with Irish and continental livestock exporters.

“Section 7 of the 1994 Bord Bia Act obliges Bord Bia to promote livestock as well as beef, and the opportunity to win a share of this six million calf veal market is the real solution to the increasing number of Irish dairy calves.

This is a real and long-term market and we are well positioned to supply it.

Cullinan called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to “cut through the red tape” on calf transport, stating:

“Now is the time to secure and sort out proper lairage facilities and transport routes on the continent, not next February and March when the calves are on the ground.

“Irish dairy calves have a value; it’s a matter of getting them to the market,” he concluded.