British labelling system hindering Irish calf exports
One of the country's largest calf exporters has blamed the British Red Tractor beef label-ling system for keeping Irish farmers out of a lucrative market.
Wicklow-based Seamus Scallon claimed calves were making up to €200 extra a head in Brit-ain and has called for the intervention of the Government and Bord Bia to renegotiate access to British markets for Irish calves.
"We are paying levies on all calves that are exported from this country so Bord Bia could be doing a lot more to ensure that we can supply calves into Britain. We have customers with a great interest, but they can't buy them because they cannot get them slaughtered in the country with the regulations that are in place", he said.
"It may be good for the Irish factories to have more of the calves kept at home, but it is not doing a service to farmers. I have customers in Britain who want to buy Irish-coloured calves and we have farmers who want to sell them," he added.
Joe Burke, Bord Bia said that there was nothing stopping Irish exporters selling into Britain, but that the current labelling requirements ensured that animals born in Ireland would be less valuable.
"Bord Bia has been in contact with our counterparts in Northern Ireland and Britain, as well as cattle finishers, processors and retailers in Britain. These labelling requirements prevent final retailers from describing product born in Ireland but finished in Britain as either British or Irish. This product would need to be labelled with the country of birth (Ireland), the country of rearing (Ireland and Britain) and the country of slaughter (Britain). Some retailers view these requirements as potentially confusing or ambiguous to British consumers," he said.
He said small numbers of Irish-born animals create extra work for British meat plants since they need to be de-boned and labelled separately.