Fianna Fail ‘alarmed by lack of urgency’ in solving calf-export blockages

The Fianna Fail spokesperson on agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, has said that he is “alarmed at the lack of urgency” being taken by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in solving calf export blockages and lairage capacity issues flagged a few weeks ago.

The Donegal TD commented: “Despite writing to the chair of the Agriculture Committee to hold an emergency meeting to address the growing crisis and limited calf exports, it has taken over two weeks for the minister to agree to my request to attend and take questions from members on the issue.”

Deputy McConalogue claimed that Minister Creed has been taking a “hands off approach” up to this point.

He and his Government colleagues should have been doing everything possible to increase calf exports to the continent.

Commenting on the numbers, McConalogue said: “Calf exports are currently constrained to 4,000 at a time due to the maximum lairage capacity. With three sailings per week this means only 12,000 calves can be exported a week.

“The minister as well as Bord Bia need to be doing everything to ensure every possible dairy bull calf is exported over the next number of weeks.

“Given how the beef sector is at crisis point, the prospect of a hard Brexit on the horizon, and the large oversupply in the market currently, the minister should have been doing everything long in advance to get to grips with increasing calf export.”

Concluding, deputy McConalogue said: “It is a sorry state of affairs that the minister has not been attentive on the issue and doing everything at his disposal to increase capacity given the demand for Irish calves in the Netherlands and Spain.”