FARMERS have warned Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney he needs to focus on his current role instead of thinking about his possible future job in Cabinet.
The Irish Farmers Association held a surprise protest with around 50 members outside the Department of Agriculture to highlight the continued collapse in beef prices, which it said are down 15-20pc on last year.
Its president Eddie Downey said farmers believed Mr Coveney was sleepwalking through the crisis.
"They are angry that he seems distracted about his possible future role in Cabinet rather than dealing with issues that are putting their livelihoods under threat," he said.
Farmers were also sick and tired of hearing Mr Coveney talk up the industry and how markets to Japan and China were opening up, while prices to our biggest market Britain were in trouble, said IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns.
Teagasc figures published last month showed incomes on cattle and sheep farms had plummeted last year.
Mr Coveney said in a statement that he was "acutely aware of the importance of the beef sector and sensitive to the concerns of farmers at this time".
The downward pressure on beef prices was replicated in the UK and other European markets, he said.
Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association urged farmers going to a Teagasc Beef Open Day in Grange, Co Meath today to make their views known to big beef companies attending.