Farmers to go ahead with meat plant protests as talks collapse

Processors had appealed to IFA to call off campaign targeting up to 30 plants

An IFA delegation, led by president Eddie Downey and IFA national livestock committee chairman Henry Burns, on their way into talks with the meat factories over beef prices at Citywest in Dublin. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke.

An IFA delegation, led by president Eddie Downey and IFA national livestock committee chairman Henry Burns, on their way into talks with the meat factories over beef prices at Citywest in Dublin. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke.

 

Farmers are due to carry out nationwide protests outside meat processing plants tomorrow after nine hours of talks aimed at averting the move were  broke down last night.

Earlie, processors had appealed to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) to call off the campaign expected to target up to 30 plants over 48 hours.

Farmers held a 24-hour protest last month, the first of its kind in 15 years, arguing they were receiving €350 a head less for cattle here than in the UK.

The association said that while Irish prices had improved by 10 cent per kilo within the past week, this was “nowhere near enough”.

Both parties were locked in discussions from lunchtime yesterday, chaired by former secretary general of the Department of Agriculture Michael Dowling.

Other issues remain on the association’s agenda, including an increase in the age limit of saleable cattle as well as calls for full and accurate price transparency in the supply chain.

Disruptive action

Ciaran Fitzgerald, chairman of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), said disruptive action would not only damage the meat business but also placed a question mark over the IFA’s commitment to talks on the sector organised by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

IFA president Eddie Downey said the situation remained “extremely tense” as members prepared to escalate the dispute. The association would not be drawn on whether the planned protest would involve an actual blockade of facilities, referring to the action only as a “protest”.

“Farmers have endured a horrendous year of loss-making cattle prices and unacceptable specification cuts. The meat factory bosses must accept responsibility for their disastrous handling of the relationship with their farmer suppliers this year,” he said.

Speaking from China on the final day of an agri-food trade promotion mission, Mr Coveney urged all sides to “make progress on the current issues under discussion” before the beef forum meets again next Wednesday.