Factories warn of lost customers as cattle glut surges to 70,000 head

Farmers pictured talking to some managers from Dawn Meats,during their protest outside the Dawn Meats plant at Grannagh in Waterford. Photo: Frank McGrath
Farmers pictured talking to some managers from Dawn Meats,during their protest outside the Dawn Meats plant at Grannagh in Waterford. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ciaran Moran and Martin Coughlan

A glut of 70,000 cattle has been created as a result of the marathon beef dispute between farmers and meat protestors.

It comes as it seems unlikely that an agreement secured over the weekend will see protesting farmers leave the picket lines.

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A spokesperson for the Independent Farmers of Ireland, Ger Gough, said there is a trust issue between farmers and the meat industry.

Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, he said farmers are taking a "wait and see" approach to see if there will be any movement on the base price.

Yesterday, it emerged that groups protesting outside meat factories are attempting to secure beef price rises from individual meat plants.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) director Cormac Healy denounced the move, describing it as effectively an attempt to blackmail the factories.

"Protesters are illegally blocking the gates and suggesting they can discuss with management when they can re-open," he said.

It comes as the ongoing factory protests have significantly disrupted supplies over the last seven weeks.

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An analysis by the Farming Independent shows the backlog created by the protests could be as high as 70,000.

Support measures

Mr Healy yesterday warned that a juncture is now being reached where irreparable damage will be done to the customer base for Irish beef in the UK and European markets.

"Whenever we do get back to normal processing activity, there is a big question mark over how many customers will be there," he said.

"Customers have moved and are moving to get supply from other markets.

"If we get back open and many of these customers are gone, we will be looking to Government for market supports measures."

The highlights of the brokered deal over the weekend include an immediate 66pc increase from 12c to 20c in the current in-spec bonus payment.

In addition, a new 8c/kg bonus was agreed for steers and heifers aged between 30 and 36 months, which meet all other non-age-related existing in-spec criteria.

Similarly, a new in-spec bonus payment of 12c/kg was proposed for steers and heifers under 30 months that grade O- and have a fat score 4+.

These animals currently do not qualify for any bonus under the QPS.

The weekend agreement included proposals to establish a Beef Market Taskforce to provide a governance structure to enhance the future viability of the beef industry.

And MII claim protestors are creating 'a blackmail situation'

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