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Friday 22 September 2017

Cork Marts decision to cease calf exports 'irreversible'

Farming Independent team

The decision of Cork Marts to discontinue live export of dairy calves is 'irreversible' despite strong criticism of the move from farmers dependent on the trade.

"We will not be reversing the decision. It was a hard decision to take but we could not continue losing money, in a situation which got worse during the past year, we had to take action in the interest of the shareholders and the society", Sean O'Sullivan, CEO, Cork Marts Group told the Farming Independent yesterday. Alarmed farming leaders described the decision as "inconceivable".

However, the board of Cork Marts Group is to meet this week to consider a reduction of commission charges on calf sales for both sellers and buyers to "incentivise" the continuation of the trade.

Cork Marts entered the direct export of calves in 2009 and have been exporting 15,000-20,000 calves per annum, mainly to Holland and Spain.

Bandon continues to be the largest calf mart in the country with weekly throughput of up to 1,800 calves at peak.

"It has always been a very tight margin business and we have always struggled to make it profitable while also supporting our calf sellers.

"The past season was very difficult with further downward pressure on margin and operating costs on an upward curve," Sean O'Sullivan said.

ICSA suckler chairman Dermot Kelleher this week described as "deep alarm" the decision of Cork Marts to withdraw from the trade.

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"Live exports are urgently needed to get the glut of dairy calves out of the country. Cork Marts was a major player in this business and we urgently need to see these calves exported by someone," he said.

ICMSA chairman Gerard Quain said that the "decision will have a big impact on the trade for calves in 2017, because Cork Marts were big players in the export".

The live export of calves is already under pressure, with total exports to the Netherlands down from some 43,600 in 2015 to 26,900 in 2016 on a year to date basis, and half the levels achieved in 2010, when a total of 159,000 calves were exported.

Indo Farming