Beef Protests: Plans for beef talks collapse at last minute as protests continue

A sign in chinese on the farmers protest outside Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan which was left there for potential Chinese investors to read. It translates as “peaceful farmerr protest, looking for a fair price for our product”. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
A sign in chinese on the farmers protest outside Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan which was left there for potential Chinese investors to read. It translates as “peaceful farmerr protest, looking for a fair price for our product”. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Margaret Donnelly and Ciaran Moran

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said it is adjourning its participation in today's beef talks, as protests continue at 20 meat factories around the country.

The beef sector remains in turmoil as an unprecedented crisis continues to grip the sector with no end in sight as meat factories say their plants remain blocked. Farmers have been protesting about the price they receive for beef since July 28. While the Beef Plan organised the initial protests, it has since distanced themselves from the ongoing protests.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, expressed disappointment today at developments in relation to the beef dispute and urged the parties to engage in a positive way to resolve the current impasse.

"I can certainly understand farmer frustration at market conditions that see many producing beef at a significant loss and of course the closure of meat plants is in nobody’s best interests. I am concerned that today’s events will only serve to entrench positions and risk prolonging this very damaging dispute.

"Processors and farmers are mutually dependent and the future of the beef sector depends on the development of a commercial relationship built on a recognition that this is the case.

"Having met with protesting farmers from across the Country and having consulted widely with political colleagues it is abundantly clear that the nature of this protest is complex and that channels of communication are unclear.

"The normal channels of engagement which may apply to such disputes regrettably have not applied as effectively in this instance. I ask MII to reflect on this reality and to make every effort to avoid action that might lead to a further deterioration in relationships in what is already an intractable dispute," The Minister said.

This morning, some 20 plants representing 80pc of processing capacity remain blockaded, it said, in a statement and that during an initial engagement with the independent chair and government officials, MII communicated that protesters had failed to step back from factory gate blockades and had instead intensified these illegal blockades.

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"MII requested the Minister and Independent Chairman to use their best endeavors to have blockades lifted to enable talks. The MII delegation adjourned its participation in the talks until all illegal blockades are lifted."

It also said the extent of the continued illegal blockading has placed factory employees in peril of layoffs, and prevented beef farmers from having their factory ready cattle processed. Furthermore, the blockades have put in jeopardy national and international customers of Irish beef.

It said that the clear implication of the failure to secure a suspension of illegal blockades also demonstrates the absence of leadership capacity to deliver a successful outcome to any such talks.

"This was also evident on the previous occasion when an agreement was reached in talks brokered by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, but subsequently reneged upon by Beef Plan."

It comes as poor weather particularly in the North West is increasing pressure on many farmers to off-load stock.

In a statement Independent Farmers of Ireland which claims to represent many of those protesting stated in meetings with the Minister's spokespeople that "the men and women around the country would not leave the gates until talks concluded successfully".

Minister Creed had maintained last week that the protests must leave the factory gates for talks to begin.

On Sunday, the Beef Plan Movement began a new wave of protests outside distribution centres owned by supermarkets, despite distancing itself from ongoing demonstrations at meat factories.

It comes as farmers in the West and North after heavy rain over the last three weeks has forced farmers to offload both factory and store cattle ahead of time.

Marts in these areas report weekly increasing numbers while in the east and south numbers are steady ahead of the ploughing.

Online Editors


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