DEAR SIR: With Bord Bia forecasting 100,000 more cattle for 2017, an increase in calf births and cattle prices at unviable levels, the live export trade was never more important. It is essential to drive competition and get a balance back into the beef trade in order to deliver higher prices for farmers.

A strong live export trade for calves is vital. IFA has been working on calf exports for this spring and has met a number of the exporters and the Department of Agriculture in recent weeks. The transport difficulties exporting to the Netherlands need to be resolved immediately with the EU Commission. Irish farmers must have access to the EU single market. The charges on the live trade are too high and IFA is demanding the removal of fees of up to €8 on calf exports. It is completely unfair that calves worth between €80 and €150 per head would have to pay the same level of charge as finished animals going through a factory worth €1,400 per head.