'Meat Industry Ireland is only a mudguard for Larry Goodman and other beef barons'

Tim Cullinan
Tim Cullinan
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

IFA Presidential candidate and National Treasurer Tim Cullinan has reacted furiously to the threat of court action by Meat Industry Ireland (MII) against farmers engaged in the current beef protests.

It comes as Meat Industry Ireland said factories have been left with no option but to pursue a 'legal remedy' to the protests.

Cullinan, who met with protesters at ABP Nenagh, over the weekend said that rather than addressing the legitimate issues, particularly price, which is at the core of the protest, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has have now resorted to scare tactics which have no basis for a solution to the crisis.

The IFA National Treasurer said: “MII is only a mudguard for Larry Goodman and the other beef barons. There is no way Larry Goodman is going to sue individual farmers and the MII statement is only a bluff and a diversionary tactic from the real issue which is the exploitation of beef farmers by processors in recent years.

“Beef farmers’ incomes have been decimated while processors have become multi-millionaires and are now some of the richest individuals in the country."

Meanwhile, IFA President Joe Healy, who last week declined to to comment on whether IFA would as an organisation officially support the Beef Plan protests, called the move by Meat Industry Ireland to take legal action as heavy-handed, ill-advised and counterproductive in terms of finding a solution to the very serious issues affecting beef farmers.

“Hauling beef farmers before the courts is not the answer to the hugely significant challenges facing the sector."

IFA, in a statement to the Farming Independent this week, said it was up to individual members. "Members are free to make their own decisions regarding the current factory protests or to withhold their cattle and sheep.

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"However, farmers who need to sell their cattle or sheep should be allowed to do so."

Today, the IFA President said the current dispute is a product of the desperation farmers find themselves in. The reality is that if we don’t improve the situation of farmers, we won’t have any beef sector at all as farmers will go out of business.”

He also called on Meat Industry Ireland to set aside any pre-conditions and enter the talks proposed by Minister Creed immediately.

Healy told Midwest Radio today he has sympathy for the staff of Dawn Meats. "A lot of those staff in those plants are part-time farmers as well. No one likes to see anyone laid off. I would hope that some solution could be found to this sooner rather than later."

However, he warned it's "difficult to see a meaningful increase from the marketplace". Healy also said the IFA is focusing its energies on trying to ban imports of substandard beef from outside the EU. 

It comes as Meat Industry Ireland said its members have been left with no choice other than to seek legal remedy in an effort to prevent Beef Plan from causing further damage to the Irish beef industry.

In a statement today it said factories face losing contracts as the Beef Plan protests continue into their 12th day.

"Unfortunately, because of Beef Plan blockades, and in the aftermath of its refusal to enter talks brokered by the Minister, businesses have, as a last resort, been left with no choice other than to seek legal remedy in an effort to prevent Beef Plan from causing further damage to the Irish beef industry."

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