Beef plan vow to continue protests into second week as standoff with factories continues
The Beef Plan Movement is set to continue its protests at meat factory gates into a second week as the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed comes under increased pressure to intervene in the dispute.
On Friday, Fianna Fail joined a now chorus of calls including former Minister Denis Naughten for the Minister to bring both sides to the table to find a resolution to the dispute.
Recent months have seen beef farmers hit with a host of blows including Brexit fallout, Mercosur and US trade deals as well as increased pressure over their environmental performance.
Late last week, US President Donald Trump hailed a deal to sell more American beef to Europe a move which farmers have described as another example of beef farmers being sacrificed for other sectors.
Processors have to date refused to engage with the Beef Plan Movement until they call off the protests despite significant disruption to processing last week.
A spokesperson for the Beef Plan group said it has asked the processors through Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to make what it considers a reasonable proposal on what they intend to do that returns a cost of production plus a margin to beef farmers in the context that the consumer is now paying more for beef in the shops while the farmer is being paid considerably less.
Fianna Fail's Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue said it was high time the Minister for Agriculture became engaged and tried to address the growing crisis in the Beef Sector.
"This week has seen rolling protests by the Beef Plan Movement at factory gates across the country as well as demonstrations by the IFA at the EU Veterinary Office in Co Meath.
“Beef farmers are on their knees with prices at a low that hasn’t been seen for many years. It’s simply not sustainable for the Government to expect farmers to continue to carry such heavy losses. The Minister must roll up his sleeves and seek to address the frustration that has led farmers to the picket lines this week," he said.
His calls were echoed by Minister Creed's former cabinet colleague Denis Naughten who called on him to convene an emergency summit of all the key players in the beef sector in light of growing tensions between farmers, processors and those regulating the beef sector.
“From my discussions with many farmers this week, it is clear that they do not want to be protesting but there is huge fear as to the viability of beef farming particularly over the coming weeks,” explained Denis Naughten.
“Before this situation escalates, Minister Creed needs to bring all of the players together under an independent chair to assess the current situation and explore all potential options for the beef sector," he said.
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