France suspends shelter for Irish calf export in Cherbourg

The French authorities have closed the two reception centers for young calves in the port of Cherbourg until further notice. As a result, calf exports from Ireland to the Netherlands and other EU buyers have virtually come to a standstill.

Last week, European animal organizations released video footage of the sometimes heavy-handed unloading of trucks carrying Irish calves. These organizations do so annually. 

The calves from Ireland must first rest and eat in Cherbourg after their transport by sea before they can be transported further by truck. French customs and veterinary services must enforce such EU rules.

The Irish agricultural daily Agriland reports that Irish traders have noticed that demand from the EU countries has virtually come to a standstill in recent days, apparently to avoid the annual inspections.

The Irish Cooperative Organization Society (ICOS) has asked the livestock trade to “work closely with their markets. As a result, it may be necessary to hold the calves a little longer than usual,” says ICOS. On Friday evening, the Irish Department of Agriculture (DAFM) sent an email to calf exporters stating that the shelter in Cherbourg has been suspended with immediate effect.

All Irish calves traveling to mainland Europe via the port of Cherbourg pass through one of two checkpoints near Cherbourg. Once the calves leave the boat, they go straight to one of these two checkpoints that act as feeding stations for the calves, where they are then fed and rested for about 12 hours.

This is the third setback to the transport of Irish calves to mainland Europe this year. Stormy weather conditions and a strike in France also caused a number of livestock trips to be canceled in the past three weeks.