Warning over British calf smuggling
By Anthony Garvey
IRISH government inspectors have been put on alert to prevent calves from the UK being smuggled into the country.
The dramatic collapse of the calf market in Britain, there are fears that attempts might be made to smuggle animals into the Irish Republic through Northern Ireland.
A Department of Agriculture official in Dublin confirmed that extra precautions were being implemented.
Calf prices in the Republic have remained strong, with calves selling at up to IR£170 (£141) while Ireland is still operating the EU calf processing scheme.
As part of the anti-smuggling alert, mobile patrols are being increased and inspectors have been instructed to monitor any unusual trading patterns.
All calves in the Republic are registered, with eartags and passports.
The official acknowledged that the smugglers would need some kind of collusion with producers in the Republic to bring in animals.
So far we have no evidence that any smuggling is being attempted or contemplated, he said. But we cant afford to take any chances.
The Irish Farmers Association welcomed the extra precautions.
Raymond OMalley, IFA livestock committee chairman, warned there would be no sympathy or support for anyone caught smuggling calves from the UK.
Ninety per cent of what we produce has to be exported, he said.
We all have sympathy with the plight of producers in Britain, but we cant afford any messing with our market through calves being brought in here.