Beef protests causing 'immeasurable damage' - Michael Creed
Protests at meat processing plants are causing “immeasurable damage” to the beef sector and Ireland’s reputation abroad, agriculture minister Michael Creed has warned.
Mr Creed appealed to those who are still protesting to “step back for the sake of their fellow farmers”.
Beef farmers have been picketing outside meat factories for weeks over the low prices they are being paid for their cattle.
The Dáil is debating the crisis this evening.
Mr Creed said he is concerned over the difficulties facing the beef sector and understands the frustration of farmers.
He facilitated negotiations last weekend in a bid to resolve the current dispute.
The talks culminated with an agreement between the meat industry and farming organisations and representatives, but some farmers have continued their protests.
The agreement is aimed at providing immediate financial benefits to beef farmers and to address longer-term structural issues.
Mr Creed outlined details of the agreement to the Dáil including a rnage of bonuses available to farmers.
A Beef Market Task Force is also being established to provide leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the sector.
But Mr Creed also warned that the Agreement aimed at ending the protests only comes into force “on the cessation of all protests and blockades.”
He said: “All parties to the Agreement took responsibility for ensuring that this would happen, by recommending the Agreement to those they represent.
“The current situation is doing immeasurable damage to the sector and to its reputation in our overseas markets, which account for 90pc of all the beef we produce.
“The future of the beef sector is now in the balance, and I would appeal to all those still protesting to step back, for the sake of their fellow farmers.”
Mr Creed also spoke of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) for farmers who are already suffering a negative financial impact from Brexit.
He said the deadline for applying has been extended until Friday and Department of Agriculture staff are at the National Ploughing Championships to advise farmers on their applications.