IFA farmers protest over beef in Tullamore

IFA president accuses factories of tearing up ‘the grid’ contract with farmers

Farmers staged a protest outside Burger King in Tullamore, Co Offaly this evening ahead of a meeting on beef in the town.

IFA president Eddie Downey and livestock chairman Henry Burns headed the protest, where tractors and dozens of farmers blocked the entrance to Burger King.

Speaking at the protest, Mr Downey said “most people just don’t realise how bad it has been for the last 12 months for the beef finishers, for the beef industry”.

He accused the beef factories of tearing up “the grid”, a contract between farmers and factories. “They have torn up the specifications on that, they have changed the rules on that midstream and with no warning, and that has decimated farmers’ incomes,” he remarked.


With 90,000 Irish farmers relying almost solely on beef, confidence must be restored in the industry, he said. “Farmers, they just cant keep going and keep losing money,” he explained.

Reasonable prices, terms and conditions on animal sales must be offered by factories if confidence is to return, said Mr Downey. However, farmers don't believe that such agreements can be made without the involvement of Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

"Meat Industry Ireland came out with a document yesterday which did absolutely nothing to help us on the road to better relationships here," Mr Downey noted.

He expects politicians and meat factories will be made aware of just how angry farmers are. “They simply cannot sleep walk us into this industry collapsing,” he insisted.

Livestock chairman Henry Burns said the grid agreement was in place since 2010. He was angry with factories because, “when there was extra cattle the factories just tore that (grid) up.”

Mr Burns believes the move has already impacted the economy as livestock exports having risen by between 20 to 25 percent. The changes to specifications and pricing has cause widespread anger throughout the country, he remarked.

With beef farmers spending two to three years getting their product ready for the market, the decision to change specifications without notice has caused hardship for farmers, he added.

The latest protest comes just a week before the National Ploughing Championships, where beef is expected to dominate debate.