'New restrictions will hinder calf export trade'

ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe
ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Tighter restrictions on Certificates of Compliance for the movement of stock between farms could hinder the shipping trade for calves, the farm organisations warned this week.

Changes to the current regime, which will be implemented from February 4, mean movement certificates will be valid for 10 days rather than the current 30 days, while all certificates have to specify a destination herd.

The farm organisations said the new requirements make the off-farm sale and movement of calves more difficult during the busy spring calving season.

"This change will have a direct impact on those farmers who sell directly from their yard to different herd-owners who only choose calves on the day. It will undoubtedly slow or prevent these potential sales taking place," said ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe.

"The reduction of the days allowed could mean more use of online facilities, but for many farmers in rural areas, with poor to non-existent broadband, there's likely to be a lot more paperwork and delays in selling calves."

Mr McCabe pointed out that around a quarter of all farmers used the paper-based applications last year, where the destination herd number could simply be written in at time of sale.

"The bottom line is that this change puts more pressure on farmers at the busiest time of the year and runs contrary to the Department's stated agenda of simplifying form-filling and regulation for farmers," said Mr McCabe.

IFA president Joe Healy said the tighter movement restrictions must not be allowed to hamper the calf export trade.

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"These restrictions by the Department could damage the trade in a year when we need to see the doubling of numbers exported," Mr Healy said.

"We should be removing obstacles, not adding them."

The IFA has previously raised objections with the Department of Agriculture and pointed out that the changes to the regulations regarding farm-to-farm movement of animals fail to recognise the practical reality of the marketplace.

The shortening of the validity period of the farm-to-farm compliance certificates and the requirement to identify the destination herd will impact on the functioning of the market, especially for farmers who are reliant on the paper-based system, the IFA argued.

The IFA called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and the Department to reconsider the changes.

Meanwhile, ICSA beef chair Edmund Graham has urged beef farmers to stop buying calves from dairy herds that use Jersey crosses and Kiwi genetics.

"Taking on calves from Jersey and Kiwi-cross herds make no financial sense whatsoever," he said.

Mr Graham was responding to recent comments from Pearse Kelly of Teagasc, who said a dairy farmer would need to pay a beef farmer €140 to take a Jersey-cross calf. He pointed out that the cost of finishing such an animal as a 24-month steer at current base beef prices (€3.80/kg) meant such a payment would be necessary if the beef farmer was to make a €200 nett margin.

"The figures just don't add up. Indeed, I would argue the Teagasc figure is on the low side and a beef man would need a lot more than the €140 suggested," said Mr Graham.

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