Extra space at Cherbourg likely – but ‘coordinated’ approach needed

While extra capacity is likely to be available for Irish calves next spring, dairy farmers will need to ensure that they can hold calves on their farms for longer than previously required going forward, for scenarios when exporters cannot leave the country.

A multi-organisation farmer delegation travelled to Cherbourg this week to meet with calf lairage operators Jean Luc Pignet and the owners of the Qualivia Cherbourg lairage, Robert and Valerie Drique.

The group included representatives from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) and the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

In a joint statement on the matter, it was noted that the purpose of the visit was to review with the operators their experience of spring 2019, and assess the feasibility of making additional capacity available for spring 2020.

Firstly, it was noted that there is a very strong likelihood of obtaining additional capacity at the Cherbourg lairages in time for spring 2020, which “should be adequate to eliminate capacity-related problems during the busy spring period”.

Secondly, and very importantly, the ability to use this increased capacity “will require a coordinated approach by exporters to bookings with ferry companies and the lairage operators”, the organisations said.

The capacity on farms to hold calves for a little longer when they cannot travel due to weather issues will also be needed, it was added.

The delegation that travelled included IFA National Dairy Committee chairman Tom Phelan and ICOS mart chairman Liam Williams, as well as IFA, ICOS and ICMSA executives, namely Catherine Lascurettes, Ray Doyle and Aine O’Connell, respectively.

ICOS, IFA and ICMSA all said they will convey these important points to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine officials at the earliest opportunity “because it is imperative that the department regulate and take ownership of this issue”.