Replacement ferry gets green light to carry calves for live export

It has been confirmed that the ferry which is set to replace the Stena Horizon has been given the green light to carry live export trucks.

A source close to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, told AgriLand that an inspection of an alternative ferry to the Stena Horizon went well.

The alternative vessel will be available for the transport of livestock from February 20. This is welcome news and comes as a relief to all involved in the trade.

“The minister is extremely grateful to Stena for their proactive engagement and his department staff for their efforts to ensure that the important seasonal trade would not be disrupted,” our source said.

The ferry company previously announced that it had chartered a vessel as a temporary replacement ship for the Stena Horizon during its planned maintenance.

But, meeting the necessary requirements to carry live export trucks on the replacement vessel had proved challenging.

Stena Line confirmed that the temporary replacement ship will start on February 20 for a period of approximately four weeks, while the Stena Horizon is in dry dock.

This news will come as a huge relief to farmers right across the country, with the calving season now well underway on many farms.

The delay in confirming a replacement vessel had left many farmers worried that exporters would not be able to transport calves to waiting markets on the continent.

Details regarding the capacity of the replacement vessel have yet to be confirmed; farm organisations have called for there to be no change in the level of ferry capacity to export calves that was available in recent years during the peak calving period.

The developments regarding this issue comes as the 11th meeting of the Beef Roundtable took place today.

Approval welcomed

News of the approval was welcomed by Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack.

He took the opportunity to compliment Minister Creed, his officials and Stena Line for their efforts on this matter – which ensures that Irish livestock will be able to be shipped to their markets over the coming weeks.

The ICMSA had met directly with Minister Creed on this matter last week and it is very welcome news that this matter has now been resolved, he added.

With the peak calf trade just about to commence, the announcement that shipping facilities have been secured is timely and is a very welcome boost to the trade and it will certainly put a higher floor price on the price of calves this spring.

“With the shipping facilities in place, it is essential that the live exporters and Bord Bia now have a clear focus on maximising the benefits of this trade over the coming months,” McCormack concluded.