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Beef Plan Movement paying the price for making promises it could never keep

Margaret Donnelly


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Protest: A march, led by the Beef Plan Movement, at Leinster House

Protest: A march, led by the Beef Plan Movement, at Leinster House

Protest: A march, led by the Beef Plan Movement, at Leinster House

We're all guilty of it - thinking we can get some grand plan over the line only to fail at the final hurdle.

However, it becomes a real issue when the people affected are those whose hopes have been built up with promises that sound great but could never realistically be fulfilled.

We see it in the promises made by our political parties in the run-up to general elections - vote for us and we'll do everything.

They invariably get bogged down in the detail of how these grand promises might be achieved or financed.

Whatever about political parties promising the sun, moon and stars, when farming organisations come out and promise to achieve what others have failed to do, it is reckless and dangerous, particularly at a time when farming is at such a low ebb.

But that's what the Beef Plan did during weeks of meetings around the country last year.

They talked the good talk, promising farmers the new movement would take back control of the beef sector and swing the pricing pendulum back in the favour of farmers.

Other farming organisations scoffed and rightly so - they'd been there before, tried and failed, and knew the limitations of even the most extreme actions.

Meanwhile, farmers around the country were told what they wanted to hear and signed up, pledged their money and support, and prepared to go into battle for the cause.

And many did.

As the summer rolled on we saw Beef Plan take visible action, as protests turned into pickets.

Factions

But it achieved little.

Beef prices have not improved.

Instead, the Beef Plan has been beset by warring factions - albeit with farmers' best interests at heart it must be said - and these internal battles look set to cripple an organisation that promised so much.

And while that battle plays out, the bigger agenda of CAP reform and budget cuts looks set to deliver another blow to farmers.

Divided farming organisations at home, squabbling over who's in control, won't help anyone when the really decisive battles are fought out in Brussels.

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