A newly established exporter body has held its first meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

At the meeting, the minister emphasised the need for all the industry stakeholders to “work together” to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the management of dairy male calves in 2020.

In a statement to AgriLand, the department said “it is committed” to formal engagement with all stakeholders regarding the need for co-operative management between each to ensure that lairage capacity at Cherbourg, in France is “optimised”.

The minister and officials from the department met with the newly established exporters’ body last week to discuss and review existing export procedures – including lairage facilities in Cherbourg.

“The minister and department officials urged industry stakeholders to work together to develop an additional lairage in Cherbourg or engage with the owners of existing facilities to explore the potential for additional capacity,” the statement outlined.

Below are the latest figures on Irish live cattle exports up to and including the week ending September 22, 2019.

Data source: Bord Bia

It is understood that the new exporter body includes a number of operators from across the country; its formal structure is still being finalised.

2-pronged approach

Meanwhile, Pat McCormack president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has said that his organisation “is convinced” that much more coordination is possible between dairy and beef farmers in a way that would benefit both sides.

“We’re actively looking at ways to provide positive options around spring-calving dairy farms – we think there’s a lot of room for integrating those dairy-cross bull and heifer calves into the beef sector and ensure that the beef producer makes a decent margin from this enterprise.”

The ICMSA leader believes that there has been an “increased focus” among dairy farmers on the need to use good beef sires and to strive, insofar as possible, to produce calves that are “fit-for-purpose” for a beef enterprise.

A two-pronged approach is needed on this matter: the use of the ICBF’s Dairy Beef Index [DBI], which appears to have had an impact in the 2019 breeding season; and we also need to ensure obstacles to the live export trade are removed.

“Come spring 2020, we will need to see the live export business set up and ready to go with all protocol, lairage and administrative issues taken care of well in advance of the calving-down period.

“We categorically need a specialist live exports section operating under the aegis of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and comprising of shipping, veterinary, exporters, department officials and farmers to make sure that the trade is ready in a manner that gets the calves delivered to their destination in absolute accordance with our superb animal welfare standards,” concluded McCormack.