Now staff issues set to hit beef industry as workers gain employment elsewhere

  • Claim Liffey Meats agrees to set base price for six weeks
  • Factories confirm beef agreement provisions now in effect
Staffing issues now affecting meat industry (Brian Lawless/PA)
Staffing issues now affecting meat industry (Brian Lawless/PA)
Farmers talk to a trucker as they protest at the ABP beef plant in Bandon where a Chinese flag flies in the background. Photo: Denis Boyle
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) today confirmed that all pickets have now been removed from its members beef processing facilities throughout the country.

However, processors are now facing issues finding adequate staff for their plants after at least 3000 were laid off over the course of the protest.

It said beef processing is recommencing in some sites today. Sheep processing has also recommenced in the west of Ireland plants.

Despite processors contacting employees to inform them that they will be recommencing processing this week, many plants are stating that some personnel will not be returning to work in the beef sector as they have gained employment in other sectors.

Its understood that meat processors hope staffing concerns will alleviate through the course of the week.

Meat Industry Ireland also stated that processors are engaging with their customer base after this damaging period to seek to rebuild business over the period ahead.

"This will take some time as many customers have made their purchasing plans without Irish beef and committed to supply arrangements with alternative suppliers for at least the next number of weeks.

There will be a need for additional marketing and promotional activity to support Irish beef in the period ahead and MII will discuss this with the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia," it said.

It also said the provisions of an agreement between farm organisations and the meat industry are now in effect.

Yesterday, beef protests affecting Liffey Meats facilities in Cavan and Galway were stood down.

The protests were the final pickets to step back after a historic almost 8-week dispute over beef prices.

Protests have plagued the sector for weeks as farmers picket the gates of meat-producing plants across Ireland over the price of beef, which is at its lowest in years.

Meanwhile, speaking on RTE Radio this morning Dermot O'Brien of the Beef Plan Movement, claimed Liffey Meats have agreed to put a floor under the base price for the next six weeks.

"Last night Liffey agreed to put a base of 3.50 on steers and 3.60 on heifers," he said.

Liffey Meats have been contacted to comment on the claim.

Many farmers claim they are struggling to survive and will be forced out of business without Government intervention.

The move means a new agreement between farm organisations and farmers can now take effect.

The highlights of the brokered deal over the weekend include an immediate 66pc increase from 12c to 20c in the current in-spec bonus payment.

In addition, a new 8c/kg bonus was agreed for steers and heifers aged between 30 and 36 months, which meet all other non-age-related existing in-spec criteria.

Similarly, a new in-spec bonus payment of 12c/kg was proposed for steers and heifers under 30 months that grade O- and have a fat score 4+.

These animals currently do not qualify for any bonus under the QPS.

The weekend agreement included proposals to establish a Beef Market Taskforce to provide a governance structure to enhance the future viability of the beef industry.

In a statement, Independent Farmers of Ireland said the agreement is the beginning of something new, and although there are still many problems that face the Beef industry in Ireland, it feels farmers can face them now from a different position than the picket lines.

"The newly proposed Taskforce will have the power to oversee all this and therefore the implementation of the proposed solutions is crucial.

"We feel this Taskforce is the key element of the proposal as it will be the Police force of the agreement," it said.

IFA President Joe Healy said that as factories re-open, they must pay the increased bonuses in the deal with immediate effect. “Factories should come forward with a strong base price and pay the new bonuses,” he said.

“This agreement is not perfect, but I want to make it clear that it applies equally to all farmers regardless of their scale,” he said.

However, it has been estimated that a glut of 70,000 cattle has been created as a result of the marathon beef dispute with some factories warning it may take months to clear.

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