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Downey condemns factory price cuts

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IFA President Eddie Downey speaks to beef farmers taking part in an IFA protest at the Kepak processing plant in Clonee Co Meath recently. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

IFA President Eddie Downey speaks to beef farmers taking part in an IFA protest at the Kepak processing plant in Clonee Co Meath recently. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

Finbarr O'Rourke

IFA President Eddie Downey speaks to beef farmers taking part in an IFA protest at the Kepak processing plant in Clonee Co Meath recently. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

The IFA has challenged the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to stand up to the meat factories, following the latter's decision to change the weight limits on prime cattle last week.

"Having strongly defended the factories this time last year (during the horsemeat crisis), it is incredible that the factories will not work with Minister Coveney to restore confidence in the beef sector," said IFA president Eddie Downey.

He claimed that the additional downward price pressure imposed by processors on prime cattle so soon after their meeting with Minister Coveney showed a "clear disregard" for the Minister.

Round table discussions on beef and sheep markets were held between the IFA, the NFU and the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) last week, where concerns over beef prices and producer confidence were raised.

Speaking after the meeting, IFA sheep chairman John Lynskey said that it was a very "worthwhile meeting".

"Clearly dialogue between our organisations and our livestock sectors is vital as we look for solutions to shared challenges," he said.

However, Farmers For Action (FFA) spokesman, William Taylor, said that the IFA had put the cart before the horse. "There is little point in our farm leaders heading over to Britain to discuss beef prices before they get the situation on their own doorstep sorted first," he said.

Mr Taylor said that he still has received no response to his letter to IFA president Eddie Downey looking for an all-island approach from the farm organisations to securing higher cattle prices. "The IFA simply don't want to work with us on this issue," he claimed.

FFA have called for a nationwide strike of beef factories from April 2.

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