Farmers protest over low beef prices
Farmers have been protesting about low beef prices outside a number of factories.
Hundreds of farmers mounted pickets outside the Kepak plant in Clonee, Co Meath, ABP in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and Dawn Meats in Grannagh, Co Waterford.
IFA president Eddie Downey told farmers at Clonee there was real anger and frustration with factories after bull beef prices were cut.
He said farmers had lost up to €200 per animal since last December.
"This has seriously eroded confidence among beef farmers and left winter finishers with substantial losses. The price cuts have to stop," he said.
But IBEC's Meat Industry Ireland, which represents factories, said the protests were misguided as the prices paid to farmers had risen by 40pc over the last four years.
"Today, despite some weakening due to market conditions, our prime cattle prices remain among the highest across Europe," said director Cormac Healy.
"Overall, the Irish finished cattle price is 102pc of the EU average, yet the IFA protests seek to deny the realities of the marketplace," he said.
Despite weaker demand, the Irish industry had processed 10pc more cattle so far this year.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association criticised beef processing in Ireland as an "anti-competitive closed shop" dominated by just three big processors.