The announcement of 400 additional places for calves in lairage in Cherbourg do not go far enough, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson for agriculture Charlie McConalogue.
“It is alarming that the Minister for Agriculture has welcomed this increase as it does not go near enough to ensuring Irish farmers are in a position to export dairy bull calves,” McConalogue said.
“The farming community is crying out for additional capacity for exporting their produce but this has not materialised.”
Describing the announcement as “most welcome”, Minister Michael Creed said: “Based on current ferry sailing schedules, this provides increased capacity of some 1,200 animals per week.”
Exported calves must be rested for a minimum of 12 hours on arrival at Cherbourg from Ireland.
As previously reported, calf exports were faced with a bottleneck earlier this month due to a shortage in lairage space at the French port.
Last year, a total of 158,800 calves were exported, which marked a 55% increase from 2017
The IFA said it has identified an operator in Cherbourg that can provide capacity for an extra 600 calves.
“The IFA has been in regular contact with the two lairage operators in Cherbourg. The other operator is willing to increase his capacity by another 600 calves, but his premises needs approval from the French authorities to do this,” IFA president Joe Healy said.
“We have repeatedly asked the minister to speak to his counterpart in France to ask the authorities in Cherbourg to work with both lairage operators to get approval for the extra spaces. We need to see far greater urgency from the minister and the Department to resolve this crisis.”
According to the latest Department of Agriculture figures, some 19,900 calves have been exported from Ireland this year, with the Netherlands providing the largest market for Irish calves.
Last year, a total of 158,800 calves were exported, which marked a 55% increase from 2017.
Calf export bottleneck at peak time
Extra French calf lairage spaces still not enough