'We are not looking for an arm and a leg - all we are looking for is our fair share'
FARMERS protesting over beef prices escalated their action in Cork by mounting a demonstration outside the distribution centre of supermarket giants, Musgrave.
The firm, which controls such supermarket chains as SuperValu, Centra, Daybreak and Mace, operate a huge distribution centre off the Tramore Road in Cork city.
Through its various supermarket brands, Musgrave represents one of the largest meat distributors in Ireland.
Its distribution centre, which ranks as one of the biggest in thecountry, services hundreds of supermarkets nationwide.
Farmers placed a peaceful protest outside the complex shortly before 3pm in a bid to highlight the ongoing crisis over beef prices in Ireland.
Protesters stressed that no vehicles were prevented from entering or leaving the complex.
The demonstration will be mounted again on Thursday.
Livestock owners warned that beef prices being paid to farmers are simply not sustainable.
Protesters carried Beef Plan placards warning "No handouts - just fair trade" and "Fine Gael has forgotten rural Ireland."
Farmer Sean O'Callaghan said all livestock operators want is fair treatment.
"We are not looking for an arm and a leg - all we are looking for is our fair share," he said.
"This is not going to go away. Out of respect for people who go in to do their shopping in retail units whether it be Musgrave, Tesco or Dunne Stores, they (retailers and factories) should come to the table and sort this out."
Another farmer warned that the longer the dispute drags on, the harder it will be to resolve.
"There will be a huge knock-on effect if farmers go out of business and everyone needs to realise that from retailers to consumers," he said.
Helen O'Sullivan said retailers have a major part to play in ensuring the current impasse is resolved.
"They have a big role to play in this," she said.
The Musgrave protest followed long-running demonstrations outside meat plants in Bandon and Watergrasshill in Cork over beef prices.
Protests have also been mounted outside meat plants in Kildare, Wexford, Meath, Monaghan, Longford, Mayo and other counties.
Farmers have also protested outside a Longford pet food plant. Meat Industry Ireland (MII) warned that more than 3,000 workers have
been temporarily laid off because of the dispute. Farmers warned that retailers now need to make their voices heard
within the dispute.
Agriculture Minister and Cork TD Michael Creed appealed to all involved in the stand-off including farmers and meat plant operators to take part in talks aimed at resolving the damaging dispute.