Farm Ireland

Sunday 24 March 2019

Fianna Fail call for emergency meeting with Minister to address live exports blockage issues

Live shipping exports
Live shipping exports
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Fianna Fail members have written to the chair of the Oireachtais Joint Committee on Agriculture calling for an emergency meeting with the Minister of Agriculture Michael Creed to address issues that are preventing the current expansion of live exports of calves.

Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told FarmIreland that not enough is being done to address blockage issues such as difficulties with ferry schedules and lairage capacity.

“There hasn’t been enough done by the Department of Agriculture or the Minister to make sure the capacity is there for exports. As we come in to the key period over the next few weeks, the key blockage is the lairage capacity on the French side in Cherbourg. The capacity is at 4,000 calves per week at the moment and that won’t get enough out,” he stated.

 “If the lairage capacity is increased, the estimation is that we could get up to 300,000 calves out of the country at calf stage, that’s the stage where the significant demand is. There isn’t a significant demand in the open markets for live exports of larger cattle post weanling stage so it’s essential we take advantage of that opportunity.

“Fianna Fail has written to the chair of the Agriculture committee seeking an emergency meeting of the agri committee with the Minister to address the blockage age issues that are there in terms of exports. If we don’t avail of the opportunity to get up to 300,000 calves out of the country then the problem will be exacerbating what we have currently.”

Mr McConalogue pointed out that the difficulty finishers are facing in getting young bulls killed could be alleviated in the future if there was a bigger export market available for young bulls at calf stage.

“It does come back to supply; we have to learn lessons immediately. We need to get dairy calves out as early as possible at live stage to the veal trade on the continent,” he said.

Beef farmer Robert Ellis from Drinagh in West Cork stated that he has 50 young bulls in his shed that he can’t get out because the demand isn’t there.

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“We’ve been having problems getting cattle away since November. I have 50 cattle in my shed and I can can’t kill a straight load of bulls anytime I want to do it. They’re not letting them go over age, the day after a bull goes over 24 months they don’t want to hear about it,” he said.

“I was getting €3.90 for bulls last year, I’m getting €3.40 now and barley cost me €57/tonne more to put in to a shed than it did last year. It’s a real issue, we’re in a bad place at the moment and I don’t see it getting any better.”

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