ICMSA ‘confident’ that EU member states won’t back calf trade ban

Following reports that the minister for agriculture in the Netherlands recently told the country’s parliament that she favoured a ban on Irish calves being exported there, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has said that it is “confident” that other EU member states would not be in agreement.

Des Morrison, the ICMSA’s Livestock Committee chairperson, said that the trade within the EU is “absolutely vital, operates to the highest standards and can not simply be banned on any unilateral basis or one person’s opinion”.

“As the Dutch minister acknowledges, any actions of this type can only be implemented at EU level and we’re confident that Ireland and others will not be in agreement,” Morrison stated.

The fact is that last year, the Netherlands imported 850,000 calves in total which would indicate the size of this market. Irish calves were a component of those imports and are widely acknowledged as very suitable for the Dutch buyers.

He added: “We are absolutely confident in our standards around welfare and transportation and, in fairness, those standards are transparent and acknowledged.”

The ICMSA livestock chairperson argued that “this is not a matter on which any individual member state can simply decide for or against”.

“In exactly the same way as the Dutch minister can articulate her concerns and expect them to be considered by all 27 member states, the ICMSA knows that Minister [for Agriculture] Charlie McConalogue will defend our interests and expect the same consideration from other member states and from the European Commission,” Morrison concluded.


In a letter to the Dutch parliament, minister Carola Schouten said that such a ban would make farming “more sustainable”. She is also seeking a ban on calves from Denmark, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states.

Schouten argues that long transport times and distances affect the welfare of calves, and therefore should cease.