Irish imported calves are regarded as being of a high quality and valued in the Netherlands, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said on Tuesday.

The Minister was leading a trade delegation on live exports to the key export destination for Irish calves.

“It was evident from our dialogue with importers and veal producers that Irish imported calves are regarded as being of a high quality and valued.

“There was acknowledgement that the issue of transport distance is a topical issue in the Netherlands, but that our export standards merited recognition and that the quality of Irish calves were indisputable.

“This type of dialogue is critical to reinforce our message in terms of how we demand the highest standards in animal welfare when it comes to transporting and exporting our livestock,” he said.


The Minister was accompanied by representatives from the Department of Agriculture, including secretary general Brendan Gleeson, as well as veterinary and market access officials. Bord Bia was represented by CEO Tara McCarthy, livestock director Joe Burke and Netherlands manager Laura Crowley.

The Irish Livestock Exporters Association was also on the trip and was represented by John Hallissey and Paul Clarke.


Irish live exports to the Netherlands have grown significantly in 2019 with a 75% increase on 2018 figures, totalling 83,240 calves in the year to date.

Minister Creed said the Netherlands is now our largest market for calf exports.

“This visit provided a timely opportunity to engage with all stakeholders in the livestock trade between Ireland and the Netherlands ahead of spring 2020. Government authorities as well as consumers in the Netherlands are focused on the highest standards in terms of animal welfare and sustainability in food production,” he said.

Veal sector

The delegation visited a farm in Lunteren which produces over 2,000 calves for the veal processing sector annually. “It was useful to see first-hand the type of destination facility for Irish-produced calves.

“It is clear that the highest standards are expected in terms of animal health and welfare. The farmers we met commented on the standards they expect from Irish imported animals and their satisfaction that these standards are being met,” Minister Creed said.


The delegation also participated in a round-table discussion in the Embassy of Ireland, The Hague, where participants included Dutch importers, farmers and veal producers. At this discussion, presentations were made on the calf welfare elements of Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) as well as the animal welfare and animal transport standards demanded by the Department of Agriculture for the transport of livestock.

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