Thursday 22 August 2019

Beef Plan protesters are accused of 'abuse and intimidation'

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has accused some members of the Beef Plan movement of "unacceptable abuse and intimidation" as part of their campaign.

While the body insisted it will engage with leaders of the movement if they call off its protests, MII condemned tactics which have targeted "fellow farmer suppliers, company employees, government assigned veterinarians and other service providers including hauliers".

An MII statement said the current Beef Plan protests, which are geared towards disrupting the normal and orderly marketing of beef and lamb, will do nothing to resolve the challenges in the marketplace nor the predicament of hard-pressed producers.

It said that while the group has guidelines for its members, it says some protesters have failed to follow protocols.

"Indeed, the behaviour of some protesters at certain sites has gone well beyond the guidelines issued by Beef Plan and has resulted in unacceptable abuse and intimidation of fellow farmer suppliers, company employees, government assigned veterinarians and other service providers including hauliers.

"We understand that these protests are geared towards disrupting the normal and orderly marketing of beef and lamb, but we cannot see how this course will resolve the challenges in the marketplace nor the predicament of hard-pressed producers who wish to sell their livestock for processing."

MII added that poor sales demand in export markets in the UK and across continental Europe, coinciding with strong beef supply in the EU market and Brexit uncertainty, is at the root of current market difficulties.

It says it understands the frustration of beef producers with current price returns, but again emphasised this is driven by extremely poor sales demand in export markets at a time when there appears to be strong beef supplies in the EU market.

Furthermore, the real prospect of a no-deal Brexit in three months' time has fundamentally disturbed market equilibrium.

It also said it has written to Beef Plan stating its willingness to engage with its leadership in a constructive manner but will not do so while the protests and disruption continue.

MII called on the protest group "in the wider interest of the beef sector to reflect on the wisdom of the current campaign and in particular, the considerable damage being caused".

The Beef Plan campaign did not respond to requests for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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