All the indicators are pointing towards a strong live export trade for calves to the Netherlands this Spring, according to ICMSA Livestock Committee Chairman Michael Guinan. He spoke following the recent Bord Bia Live Export Seminar.

“We’re satisfied that there’s a market there and that and that decent prices are achievable for Irish milk producers,” he said.

“And it’s essential that the Minister for Agriculture, and his officials, along with Bord Bia, ensure that the live shippers receive all the necessary support they need to maximise the number of calves exported.

“And, of course, the dairy farmers concerned must get a strong price at the start of what is likely to be a very challenging year for them.”

Guinan confirmed that the Netherlands imports over 800,000 calves annually, of which 41,000 came from Ireland in 2015.

“Against a background where dairy calf numbers in Ireland were up 120,000 in 2015 and likely to be higher again in 2016, there should be an opportunity to boost export levels to the Netherlands,” he said.

Ireland has the best live export facilities in the world and the strictest regulations.

“ICMSA believes that the target now should be to boost calf numbers substantially to the Dutch market where the price of two to three week-old calves is  substantially higher this year.

“White and rose veal prices are increasing while the cost of milk powder is coming down.”

Guinan said that the profit outlook for Dutch calf producers is significantly better today than was the case this time last year.

“Ireland needs to take advantage of this.

We have to see a co-ordinated sales push with live exporters supported accordingly . But they, in turn, must pay a stronger price to dairy farmers than was the case in 2015.”