Llarge-scale veal production is not favoured by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney as the best use of resources.
He was asked in the Dail by Galway West Fine Gael TD Seán Kyne if a veal market needs to be developed, in view of the expecte dincrease in births in the dairy herd.
Mr Coveney confirmed calf births registered so far this year increased about 130,000, or 9%, compared to 2014 (100,000 in the dairy herd and 30,000 in sucklers).
He said, “Traditionally, male dairy breed calves have been prime candidates for live export to continental markets, and my Department has facilitated this trade to provide an alternative market outlet for Irish farmers.
“The veal market is important for a growing dairy sector.
“Advances in sexed semen technology may ultimately impact on production of beef from the dairy herd. We must continue to maximise this element of beef output.”
“Farmers are concerned that once we go above a certain number in production, there is arguably over-production, which drives prices down. The challenge for me and the industry is to develop new markets, including in the United States, China, Japan, other parts of Europe and North Africa in order that we will have enough competition to ensure we can grow volume, as well as maintain strong value.”
Mr Coveney said live cattle exports are really important also. “However, our strategic thinking as a country, where possible, should be concerned with growing animals in Ireland. That is where the jobs are and the value is added. In that way, we will build a bigger industry.
“We must always maintain a certain amount of live exports to keep the home market honest, if one likes, in terms of what the factories pay for animals. We will pursue both aspects.
“We will facilitate live exports, but we will also try to put the case together to ensure farmers can also make money in growing, finishing and slaughtering animals in Ireland, in order that we build the biggest business we can.”
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