Toxic culture in the beef industry has to be stopped, warns Creed

Stark message: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Arthur Carron
Stark message: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Arthur Carron
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

The toxic relationship between farmers and the meat industry must come to an end, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has warned.

Speaking at yesterday's Tullamore Show in Co Offaly, the minister delivered a stark message to everyone involved in today's talks.

"The current toxicity of relationships between them will only see us continue from one crisis to another," he said.

"Good corporate governance, corporate social responsibility demands that we reach out, demands that they negotiate, demands that they converse with what are their critical partners in a very significant industry.

"We cannot have it as business as usual. We have to change how that conversation happens," he said.

Although many beef farmers had openly expressed their dissatisfaction at how the minister is handling the current dispute, Mr Creed passed through the show's grounds without any hostility being displayed.

The Beef Plan, which has been holding protests outside meat factories across the country, has agreed to halt the demonstrations and enter a phase of discussion.

The row has stemmed from the price paid to farmers for beef, which is at its lowest point in years.

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

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) welcomed the talks.

Standstill

The processing industry said the protests had brought beef processing to a virtual standstill in the country, causing significant disruption in the beef trade and also led to temporary staff lay-offs.

Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Joe Healy told the Irish Independent there were four things needed to reinvigorate the nation's beef market.

"Our message to Michael Creed is simple," he said.

"We need to ban the imports of sub-standard beef coming into Europe and to put a fund in place to promote European beef consumption.

"We also need to promote an environmentally sustainable way in how beef is produced and to support the farmers who have lost a huge amount of money in the beef they have sold over the last number of months," he said.

Warning

Meanwhile, farmers have heavily criticised the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) over its legal warning on protesting outside meat plants.

The Irish Independent revealed the CCPC had engaged with the Beef Plan movement in relation to the action which was taking place at processing factories throughout the country.

It was concerned the Beef Plan's plans and actions were "to organise what appears to be a collective boycott by beef farmers of beef plants, with the intention to force an increase in the price of beef, has raised concerns".

It is the second legal issue the movement has faced, with organisers facing threatened injunctions from meat factories.

A number of factories issued legal letters to the Beef Plan members on Thursday night, saying they would face action if the protests were not called off.

The IFA president stated that the letter sent by CCPC to farmers involved in the Beef Plan movement "shows that the current rules and enforcement structure in the area is a joke".

"They need to be replaced with a new regulator who acts for all parties in the chain," he said.

Irish Independent


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