Farmers protest outside supermarkets over cattle prices
Meat factories reject claim that they are profiteering at the expense of farmers
IFA President John Bryan speaks to farmers in Tesco in Maynooth. The IFA took part in a protest at Tesco, Supervalu and Aldi outlets in Maynooth, Co Kildare. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke.
More than 100 farmers protested outside three supermarkets in Maynooth yesterday to highlight their grievances about falling cattle prices.
The protest outside Tesco, SuperValu and Aldi outlets in the Co Kildare town was led by the Irish Farmers’ Association’s executive council, which had been meeting in Dublin. They were joined by cattle and sheep farmers from neighbouring counties.
Speaking at the protest at Tesco, IFA president John Bryan said meat processors and supermarkets were “profiteering on the back of livestock farmers” by continuing to cut prices.
“The latest cuts to beef prices have generated deep anger among farmers, who see this as the main processors getting together with the retailers to push down the price paid to producers,” he said.
Cattle prices have fallen from about €4.50 per kg in June to less than €4 this week while farmers in the UK are receiving almost €5 per kg.
Mr Bryan said this had created “an unprecedented gap” with our main market. The association’s livestock chairman Henry Burns said UK farmers were now receiving up to €370 per animal more than their Irish counterparts. He said these latest price cuts had “crossed the line” and warned of repercussions as farmers had suffered from the most difficult winter and spring periods on record.
“It is critical livestock farmers have a period of strong stable and profitable cattle prices to overcome these challenges and recover,” he said.
However, claims of profiteering by meat processors were rejected by their representative body Meat Industry Ireland. Its director Cormac Healy said Irish cattle prices were still 105 per cent of the average EU price.
“The reality is that the Irish price has performed extremely well all year and the processing industry has delivered a strong price to producers despite facing very strong pressure,” he said.
Mr Healy said farmers must also accept that there was pressure on demand and consumption, driven by the recession and rising meat prices.
“We are a major net exporter and it’s not sustainable for our beef price to be so far ahead of the markets we are selling into,” he said.