Explainer: Why are beef farmers protesting outside supermarkets?

Taking a stand: Farmers outside the Kepak factory in Clonee, Co Meath during the Beef Plan Movement protest.
Taking a stand: Farmers outside the Kepak factory in Clonee, Co Meath during the Beef Plan Movement protest.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The Beef Plan Movement will protest outside several supermarkets this week against a stipulation placed on farmers that beef cattle must be under 30 months when slaughtered.

Farmers get quality bonuses if the animals meet that requirement and certain Irish retailers also demand it.

It is understood Beef Plan farmers are still protesting outside the Aldi distribution centre in Naas, Co Kildare, and that they will escalate their protests across the country in the coming days.

They are expected to target certain supermarkets and supermarket warehouses that require beef animals to be under 30 months of age.

A bonus of up to 12c/kg or €40 a head is paid for stock that meet the criteria, one of which is that qualifying cattle must be under 30 months of age.

However, the Beef Plan Movement is believed to not be targeting Lidl stores or distribution centres because that retailer has more relaxed rules.

Lidl recently stated it allows beef derived from animals up to 36 months old "and our minimum requirement is for Bord Bia quality assured beef under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme".

It is also understood Tesco in the UK takes beef animals up to 36 months for its non-premium Boswell Farms meat range.

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However, McDonald's refused to confirm or deny whether it accepts beef from animals over 30 months.

"McDonald's has long-standing and positive supply chain partnerships across Ireland.

"We source beef from a number of approved Irish abattoirs to make our beef burgers and we only use 100pc Irish beef in our Irish restaurants," a McDonald's UK and Ireland spokesperson said.

"All Irish beef served in our Ireland and UK restaurants is Bord Bia quality assured and meets a number of McDonald's assurance standards including movements and residency," they added.

The Beef Plan Movement also objects to other rules that it believes are also set by retailers. This include a demand that animals stay for at least 70 days on a single farm before slaughter to be recognised as Bord Bia quality-assured animals. Beef Plan also disagrees with the four-movement rule, where animals can be transported only four times between different farms.

Irish Independent

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