Beef crisis sparks IFA rebellion threat

Beef Farmers take part in a recent IFA protest at the Kepak processing plant in Clonee, Co Meath. Now the IFA leadership has been accused of 'inaction' by an IFA branch in Limerick. Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke
Beef Farmers take part in a recent IFA protest at the Kepak processing plant in Clonee, Co Meath. Now the IFA leadership has been accused of 'inaction' by an IFA branch in Limerick. Picture: Finbarr O'Rourke

Martin Ryan

Members of an IFA branch in Co Limerick have threatened to withhold levies on beef, dairy and sheep from the association unless an effective plan of action to resolve the beef crisis is delivered within six weeks.

The ultimatum from the Kildimo IFA was delivered in a motion to the March meeting of Limerick IFA executive at which the farm body's leadership was subjected to blistering criticism for alleged "inaction" in the beef situation.

The Kildimo IFA branch also called for the expulsion from the IFA of members who lease finishing units to beef processors.

Donal O'Brien, a former member of the IFA national beef committee, told the meeting that this practice had provoked a lot of anger among farmers.

"The factories are getting farmers to go against their fellow farmers by purchasing cattle, getting farmers to take them in and paid to finish them," Mr O'Brien said.

Control

He said this policy was allowing the factories to control the overall cattle kill because they always had a buffer which they could call on to increase numbers if cattle supplies were tight.

Mr O'Brien called on the IFA to expel those members who leased sheds to beef processors.

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"The branch feels that such people have no place in the IFA and should not be part of the organisaation any longer," he said.

Mr O'Brien claimed that ordinary members felt "let down" by the IFA's "ineffective actions" to counteract the factory ploy of renting feed lots.

"If we cannot counteract this the whole thing is going to come crashing down. We all feel very strongly about this. We do not feel that enough is being done at top level in the IFA," he maintained.

Eddie Scanlan, former chairman of Limerick IFA and a current member of the national beef committee, said farmers were producing too many cattle and this had contributed to the current crisis.

"We have become busy fools. At a weekly kill of 25,000 head we would be better paid for cattle," Mr Scanlan said.

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