Protesting farmers claim they are being 'turned away' by factories

Outcry: Beef farmers protest over prices at the Dawn Meats plant in Grannagh, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Outcry: Beef farmers protest over prices at the Dawn Meats plant in Grannagh, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers have claimed they have been turned away by meat processors for protesting at factory gates in recent weeks.

ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has urged factories not to discriminate against farmers who took part in recent factory protests. “It has come to our attention that many farmers feel they are being treated less favourably by several meat processors as a direct result of their having participated in the protests. Some are even being turned away,” he said.

“It must be remembered that farmers had no choice but to take to those factory gates in order to be heard and get the opportunity to affect badly needed change.

"Matters had reached a tipping point and all those who took their grievances to the factory gates must be commended and talks are now on-going. Punishing farmers who engaged in peaceful protest is this way is unacceptable.

"Factories engaging in this type of retribution tactics is akin to kicking a man when he’s down.

“It is simply an underhanded tactic to deter farmers from returning to the factory gates should the need arise," he said.

It comes as the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed was expected to attend a third session of the beef talks in a bid to seal an agreement on a number of outstanding issues today.

It comes as no agreement was reached yesterday over the 30-month age limit for cattle and movement rules which have become a key demands of farm organisations.

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At yesterdays talks it was agreed Bord Bia will develop a beef market price index model.

It was also agreed that an independent grocery regulator is required.

DAFM agreed to introduce an appeal system for carcase classification in meat plants where there is manual grading only.

On insurance charges at the factories, Meat Industry Ireland confirmed that farmers can opt out of paying.

On the QPS (Quality Payment System) it was agreed Teagasc will review the price differentials on the grid in the short term and undertake a full review in the longer term.

It was also agreed on the need for greater transparency along the beef supply chain. An independent study of price composition along the supply chain will be commissioned by DAFM.

On CAP, it was agreed on the need for a fully funded CAP and to protect its share of the EU Budget, and ensure that the current level of direct payments to Irish beef farmers is protected.

The President of ICMSA has said that while he was not pessimistic, it was difficult to see where a breakthrough would come in today’s resumed session.

Pat McCormack said that some progress on technical issues had been made during yesterday’s “long, hard slog”, but he said that there was no sign whatsoever of agreement on either the change to the 30-month spec demanded by all the farm organisations or his own organisation’s insistence that the Quality Assurance Bonus be paid on all animals coming off Bord Bia quality assured farms.

Mr McCormack acknowledged that some small degree of agreement had been reached around the hugely criticised specifications or ‘specs’ insisted upon by the factories – but he said that it was significant that so much effort and trouble had had to be invested in matters which were essentially secondary and one step removed from the core issue of the price paid to the farmers.

Online Editors

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