Meat factories deny country only ‘days away’ from running out of fresh beef

Country only 'days away' from running out of fresh beef warns farming body

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Meat processors have denied the country is facing a fresh meat shortage, as one farming organisation calls on shoppers to ‘stock up’ on beef.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which represents the meat factories, said “we are not yet at the stage of white shelves in the domestic market.”

Just 10pc of Irish beef is for the home market but MII said some customers in export markets have not be served in recent days due to the blockages at processing facilities.

“While ongoing illegal blockades of beef processing facilities is having a serious impact for staff, customers and genuine farmer suppliers with cattle to process. “

Some 17 plants are now affected, with some fully blockaded, which MII said extremely damaging.

It comes as the President of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association, Edmond Phelan has advised consumers to stock up on beef immediately because “we are only days away from beef disappearing off the shelves.

“The big supermarkets will have no beef before the week is out unless there is a major breakthrough on this protest. Retailers can no longer bury their heads in the sand because they have happily colluded in the ongoing squeezing of farmers’ margins to the point now where beef farmers are going bust.”

It comes after the Irish Independent revealed the country's largest beef processor had exhausted all its stocks of fresh meat this week at two of its plants.

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The Larry Goodman-owned Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) said in a High Court affidavit last week that it had exhausted all its fresh stocks at two of its plants in Cahir and Waterford.

Farmers have been protesting outside factory gates intermittently, with approximately nine factories currently dealing with protests.

A number of the factories have been granted injunctions from the High Court in an attempt to prevent protesters disrupting operations. ABP, Dawn Meats, Slaney and Kepak have all secured permanent injunctions against protesters.

The Beef Plan Movement, which organised the initial protests in July, said it was disassociating itself from the current protests to allow negotiations take place. However, unofficial protests resumed when the Beef Plan presented the outcome of the negotiations to its members a week ago.

Now, a new farming organisation, a splinter group from the Beef Plan Movement, has formed to represent farmers who are still protesting at meat factory gates.

Independent Farmers of Ireland was established last night when representatives from nine pickets met and elected three representatives to speak and negotiate on behalf of farmers who remain at pickets.

However, in a statement, the group says there is no leader of the group but the three spokespeople are "available and willing to enter talks with Creed should he wish".

However, it's understood the group has not yet been in contact with the Minister's office. The Minister yesterday warned that resolution to the cattle price dispute will only be found around the negotiating table and not in meat plant protests or court injunctions.

The group also said the consensus seems to be throughout the country that the Independent Farmers of Ireland will continue their peaceful protest for as long as needed.

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