'We cannot have it as business as usual' - Minister Creed says 'toxicity' between farmers and meat industry must end

Under fire: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Damien Eagers
Under fire: Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Picture: Damien Eagers
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Agricultural Minister Michael Creed has said the ‘toxicity’ between farmers and the meat industry must come to an end.

Speaking at today’s 2019 Tullamore Show in Co Offaly, the Minister delivered a stark message to Meat Industry Ireland and everyone involved in tomorrow’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. If we achieve anything from tomorrow I hope we can collectively make progress,” he said.

The Beef Plan Movement, 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 over the price of beef, which is at its lowest point in years, with many farmers claiming they are struggling to survive and will be forced out of business without Government intervention.

It’s understood the Beef Plan has communicated the news to its protesters through its Whatsapp groups, saying that “the introduction of the legal proceedings has forced us into a position, where we have no option but to agree to suspend our protests with immediate effect until talks conclude.”

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The group also told its members if it is not satisfied sufficient progress is being made, it will leave the talks and resume the protest with immediate effect on Monday night.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII)  welcomed the talks stating that 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 layoffs.

Addressing those who are calling for farmers to improve their sustainability measures, Minister Creed said “give us a break”.

“The farming and rural community are under relentless bombardment about the sustainability of our industry.

“I would make one appeal which is to give us a break. The relentless negative commentary is in danger of creating an adverse reaction.

“I would tell the commentariats, the keyboard warriors and the media that this is an industry that’s leading globally in its sustainability.

“We can do more, but we do need recognition for what we’ve achieved already. While we’re not looking for a free pass we’re aware that there’s more to do, but so does every individual citizen of this state and globe.”

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