IFA Cherbourg visit shows ‘scope for increased calf exports’

There is “real scope for increased quality lairage capacity” for Irish calf exports in Cherbourg in France, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

This follows a visit to the French port by both IFA National Dairy Committee chairman Tom Phelan and Livestock Committee chairman Angus Woods.

Both chairmen called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed, his officials and all stakeholders in the sector to engage with their relevant counterparts and partners at national and regional level in France to help make this happen.

The IFA officers met with the two lairage operators in Cherbourg, and found their facilities to be “of very high standard, professionally run by committed staff using best practice”.

L-R: : IFA Dairy chairman Tom Phelan; Jean Luc Pignet; IFA Livestock chairman Angus Woods; and lairage manager for Jean Luc Pignet

They also met with the controlling regional veterinary authorities.

Commenting following the visit, Phelan said: “At a meeting with the port authorities, we established that there is real appetite in the region to develop and support the logistical capacity for all types of export activity, especially in the context of Brexit.

Our meetings with the lairage operators have shown that they like working with Irish calf exporters and are positively disposed towards catering for increased capacity in future.

Woods added: “Our trip was not just about gathering information.

“We also wanted to give justified confidence to the local lairage operators, veterinary and port authorities that the export of calves in best practice conditions out of Ireland was a sustainable trade flow which, while highly seasonal, would see a steady increase and justify continued and additional investment in facilities”.

“For calves just as for weanlings or other stock, the live export trade is a crucial component of the market, providing essential price competition and additional outlets.

“Securing increased capacity is very important for this valuable trade.”

In 2018, Ireland exported a total of 246,000 live cattle, of which 158,000 were calf exports.

The main calf export markets included Spain (92,495), Netherlands (48,922) and Belgium (13,459).