Beef Plan won't rule out further protests after 'disappointing talks'

Beef farmers from the Beef Plan movement pictured at the picket line outside Keypak in Clonee Co Meath. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Beef farmers from the Beef Plan movement pictured at the picket line outside Keypak in Clonee Co Meath. Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Beef Plan Movement has said it’s disappointed after talks with Meat Industry Ireland, and has not ruled out further protests.

Chairman Hugh Doyle told the Farming Independent the group had 13 points it wanted addressed but left the meeting, which went on until the early hours of Tuesday morning, with only a handful over the line.

It comes after the Beef Plan called off a two-week protest to meet with meat factory representatives, who in turn halted legal action actions members of the group.  

“I’m not ruling it out or in to go protesting again. If we feel we are hitting our heads off a stone wall. this is the last chance saloon, if this fails it’s curtains for everyone.”

He also said it was very disappointing the retailers were not in the meeting, as to ensure a fair trade beef price for farmers, the retailers must be brought to the table.

Agreement, he said, was reached to overhaul the QPS, or grid cattle pricing system, while commitment was given on a base price for beef farmers.

This, he said, will help farmers but a fair trade beef price must be found to ensure beef farmers have a sustainable income.

“I know a lot of farmers will be disappointed as we did not come back with a price rise,” he said, but price was not allowed to be discussed at the meeting.

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“at no stage going in did I think I would get a price rise. But if we can change the model and environment and put the responsibility to create sustainability, it will be good for farmers.”

“We want to bring in a fair beef price, our intention is to create a ratio that the primary producer gets a percentage of that price, so it works from the retailer back, not the processor.”

Beef Plan Movement co Chair Hugh Doyle
Beef Plan Movement co Chair Hugh Doyle

“There has to be a responsibility on the retailer, if they want food security and high environmental standards, they must be prepared to pay for that.

“If they want to buy in cheap food from around the world they must say environmental standards and food security does not matter so much.”

While the meeting ended in the early hours of this morning, it is to reconvene next week to discuss more of the issues raised by the Beef Plan.

At Tuesday’s meeting, it was agreed that beef farmers would receive a yet to be determined base price for their cattle.

The Beef Plan, which was joined by other farming organisations in the meeting, also looked for factories to introduce weighing scales at plants, so farmers can compare the live and dead weight of cattle, but no agreement was reached on this.

One of the main stumbling blocks for the meeting was the QPS for animals over 30 months. According to Hugh Doyle, further work is needed on this before any agreement can be reached.

In relation to the overhaul of the grid, he said, it could take weeks for a concrete plan to emerge on this, as it will require agreement between the farming organisations first.

He said the role of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission must be addressed. “It’s a complete and utter joke. Who is the big bad wolf here? The farmer losing €200/head of cattle?”

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