Agents deny calf imports disease risk
Livestock shippers have rejected allegations that increased calf imports represented a serious disease risk for the country's national cattle herd.
Calf imports into Ireland are currently running 41pc higher than last year, according to the latest Department of Agriculture statistics.
Figures show that 2,890 calves under 42 days of age were imported into Ireland up to last Friday, compared to 2,037 for the same period last year.
But former Veterinary Ireland council member Bill Cashman has warned that farmers who imported animals from outside of Ireland ran the risk of importing disease problems too.
"People who are importing these animals should provide an indemnity or insurance policy to the rest of the industry that they are not going to bring in diseases that could damage our export trade," Mr Cashman said. "The more you move animals around, the more you move disease around," the Cork-based vet warned.
The imported calves consist of both dairy and beef bred animals from Northern Ireland, Britain and Romania.
They include calves being bought by over-quota dairy farmers to drink excess milk on farms, as well as the usual calf trade for veal and beef production. Livestock importers have insisted that imported calves were required to meet the same stringent health criteria that Irish exported livestock are subject to.
Wicklow-based agent Seamus Scallon maintained that all imported animals were subject to testing by Department of Agriculture vets.