Bord Bia is continuing talks with the operators of the two lairage facilities in the northern French port of Cherbourg, according to Joe Burke.

Burke, the senior livestock manager for Bord Bia, said that the talks were focused around the possibilities of expanding the capacity of the facilities to handle Irish calf exports.

Burke spoke to AgriLand yesterday, Thursday, November 7, at the ‘Future of Irish Agriculture Forum’, hosted by Liffey Mills in Ennis, Co. Clare.

The two operators in Cherbourg have a collective daily capacity of, between the two of them, about 4,500 calves per day. We’ve been speaking to both of these operators in order to establish what opportunity there is, if any, to expand and increase their numbers.

He also highlighted that another issue to be looked at before spring was the number of sailing between Ireland and Cherbourg, highlighting that ferries only sail into the port on three days of the week: Tuesday; Thursday; and Saturday.

“The other opportunity then would be with regard to the sailings…in order to see if there is any other flexibility around that [so] we could be able to utilise those lairages on other days then just those three,” Burke said.

He also commented that 2019 has been a “record year” for Irish calf exports, with 195,000 exported this year.

Burke explained that apart from getting calves to the continent, there was also a need to continue contacts with potential customers.

“In order to ensure that we’re able to continue to supply these markets, that’s the route to market, or the logistic side of it.

“And then with regard to actual customers, [we are] liaising with customers in the Dutch market, and the Spanish market, in order to make sure that they recognise and appreciate the quality of what they’re getting from Ireland, and that they’re ready for the next calf season when we expect to see big numbers moving out again,” he pointed out.

Burke added that Bord Bia was “liaising closely” with Irish exporters, with a focus on market opportunities and logistics, “to make sure that everything is ready for the calf season of 2020”.