Beef protests escalate but IFA non-committal on support
Farmers from the Beef Plan Movement are picketing outside over 20 meat factories today as their protest enters a second week.
The Beef Plan group says it will continue to protest until the meat factories agree to negotiate on beef prices.
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The escalation of the dispute comes as mart prices fell further, with returns for heavy beef cattle back €70/hd this week.
In another development, IFA national treasurer and presidential candidate Tim Cullinan met protesters outside ABP Nenagh at the weekend.
However, IFA declined to comment when asked if it would be officially joining protesters at the factory gates. In a statement yesterday to the Farming Independent, the association stated that its "members are free to make their own decisions regarding the current factory protests or to withhold their cattle and sheep.
"However, farmers who need to sell their cattle or sheep should be allowed to do so."
Beef Plan chairman Hugh Doyle said the protests will continue this week. "We hope that Meat Industry Ireland will engage with us, but we are not prepared to ask farmers to stop protesting if there is nothing on the table.
"Our lines of communication are open. While this impasse continues the farmers of Ireland are asking us to continue our peaceful protest. In doing so, new factories will be added on a daily basis."
Mr Doyle called for a united front from farm organisations to tackle the beef crisis. "Together we can change things, but as individuals it's very difficult."
IFA treasurer Tim Cullinan called on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to intervene immediately in the beef crisis.
"It is unthinkable that a sector of the size and significance of the beef industry has been ignored by the Minister responsible.
"In no other sector of comparable scale would this have been allowed to happen," he said.
In a statement yesterday, Minister Creed said neither he nor the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine can legally have any role in determining the prices for beef or any other commodity. Nor can the Department directly intervene in the determination of prices.
The Minister added that farming groups did not attend the most recent Beef Roundtable meeting where he urged the stakeholders to recognise their inter-dependence.
Two farmers were hospitalised from injuries sustained in separate protests last week and the Beef Plan Movement, Meat Industry Ireland and Veterinary Ireland have all made conflicting claims of intimidation.
Veterinary Ireland has called on the Department of Agriculture to ensure that vets are not intimidated and have safe access to their place of work.
It stated that some of its members had reported alleged intimidation by some farmer protesters.
"Veterinary Ireland is asking that farmers would not use vets as a means of disrupting the factories."
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