Farm Ireland

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Anger as Cork Marts 'hamper' calf export plans

Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Photo: O'Gorman Photography

Louise hogan

Cork Co-operative Marts have interjected in a planning application by a former employee to set up a calf export business buying direct from farmers.

It comes less than a year after the marts in the south's dairy heartland decided to stop shipping live calves.

Brothers Liam and John McCarthy have lodged a planning application with Cork County Council to build lairage with the aim of exporting calves next spring.

Liam McCarthy, who worked with the marts for 17 years, believes there is a "void" there for an exporting business after Cork Marts stepped out of the market.

The brothers, who will be investing €250,000 in the calf housing and facilities for weaning and separation and a further €250,000 in working capital, are aiming to export 10,000 calves next spring if the business is up and running in time.

However, Liam McCarthy believes the move by Cork Marts to lodge an observation on their planning may "hamper" them at the "first hurdle".

"I'm eight miles from the nearest mart," said Mr McCarthy on the application for the development at Palaceanne and Murragh, Enniskeane, Co Cork.

The submission by Cork Co-op Marts, lodged on their behalf by Butler O'Neill Total Planning Solutions, raised concerns around how the surface water and run-off from the development would be dealt with.

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"The impact of such potent water on the nearby stream in environmental terms should also be assessed," it states.

It also describes the impact of farm machinery on the road as a "concern".

The co-op's CEO Sean O'Sullivan said the "observation speaks for itself".

"We are not going back into calf exports but we have very successful calf sales in our marts and we want to ensure we have as big numbers as we possibly can coming into our sales," he said.

"We feel we are providing a very good service to the calf producers in our catchment and we wish to continue to do that."

ICSA Munster vice president Dermot Kelleher queried why Cork Marts should be making interventions in the planning process.

"The ICSA is fully behind live exports and we want to see that as many dairy calves as possible are exported in order to keep the pressure on meat factories here," he said, adding they needed to get the glut of calves off the expanding dairy herd out of the country.

"On the other hand, all the extra calves means that there will be no downturn in Cork Marts' turnover.

"However, the submission of observations on pollution control, traffic management and the heritage value of a bridge is undoubtedly going to at best slow down the planning process. This will mean that live exports of calves in the spring of 2018 will be hindered."

Mr McCarthy has already met with the VanDrie Group veal producers in Holland.

"What we want to do is buy straight from the farmer and straight onto a truck, causing as little stress as possible on the calf. We're located right in the dairy heartland," he said.

Mr McCarthy said the margins were tight but they believed they could save money for themselves and farmers by buying direct, adding: "If we can offer the customers at both sides a good service there'll be a margin in the business."

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