‘Live exports up 64% in 2018’: Creed bites back at calf export criticism

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has issued a riposte to complaints issued regarding his handling of the live calf export situation.

In a series of tweets issued on social media, the minister said: “Live export facts: Since becoming minister live exports have increased significantly. 2018 figures showed a 30% increase on 2017 which itself was 30% up on 2016.

In 2017 I reduced the veterinary inspection fee on calf exports from €4.80 to €1.20, a move benefiting exporters by €572,400 in 2018 alone.

“Exports of calves increased from 102,000 in 2017 to 159,000 in 2018, an increase of 64% year-on-year. That effort continues in 2019,” the minister said.

“So far in 2019 live export figures are running 25% ahead of last year. This week I travel to Turkey to build on these numbers.”

The minister was responding to criticism levelled at him regarding difficulties getting dairy bull calves out of the country, with ferry sailings and lairage capacity in the French port of Cherbourg highlighted as key concerns.

The concern follows the decision of two ferry companies to cancel some livestock crossings to Cherbourg Port in France in recent days as a result of unsafe and turbulent weather conditions at sea.

Yesterday, Fianna Fail spokesperson for agriculture Charlie 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.”