A vote by the Dutch parliament to ban the import of calves could create a “significant challenge” for the Irish dairy sector, according to Bord Bia sheepmeat and livestock sector manager Séamus McNemanin.
McNemanin described the move by the Dutch members of the House of Representatives, which tasked their government to come up with a plan to end calf imports into the Netherlands, as a “worrying” development.
He said that while calf exports to the country should still be fine for next year, there are now “a lot of challenges facing this market”.
Over 110,000 Irish calves have been exported to the Netherlands so far in 2023, 55% of all calf exports.
The vote by the Dutch parliament now puts this significant market for Irish calves under threat.
Free trade agreement
McNemanin argued that the free trade agreement between members of the European Union (EU) could prevent an outright calf import ban.
However, he said that the Dutch could instead bring in restrictions which would make exporting to the Netherlands non-viable for Irish calf exporters.
He said that the Dutch government could bring in a requirement for calf imports to come from countries with an IBR eradication strategy, something currently not in place for the Irish dairy sector.
This requirement could potentially be in place as early as 2025, the Bord Bia representative maintained.