Enda Kenny calls for ‘cool heads’ in beef dispute

Progress made in talks between farmers and beef processors

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said a working settlement so quickly was “doable” despite there being “no love lost” between farm leaders and the beef processing side.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said a working settlement so quickly was “doable” despite there being “no love lost” between farm leaders and the beef processing side.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney have appealed to those leading the blockade of beef processing plans and the owners of the factories to remain calm as talks on reaching a settlement over the pricing of beef is agreed.

The appeal for “cool heads” came as talks between the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association and the beef industry concluded with indications that progress was being made.

The association is pushing for fairer and more transparent pricing that would see farmers benefit when beef prices increased rather than the major beef processing players using their size dictate terms.

Mr Coveney believed beef forum talks tomorrow (Wednesday) could resolve the crisis, saying the agreement of a working settlement so quickly was “doable” despite there being “no love lost” between the leaders of farm organisations and the major players on the beef processing side.

“There needs to be more transparency around the pricing of beef in factories and I think we are moving towards that,” he said speaking in Brussels yesterday as farmers continued their 48-hour blockade of plants preventing deliveries.

“This was never going to be easy or straightforward,” Mr Coveney added.

“Everybody knows who understands the beef industry there has always been a very fractious and difficult relationship between farmers and factory.

“Farmers will always push for a better price and factories will always try to get as much beef as they can as cheaply as they can. “

He believed there needed to be greater transparency around the pricing of beef.

However, he could not set prices at tomorrow’s beef forum, the latest in a series of regular meetings to monitor the implementation of reforms in the sector.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Kenny acknowledged the concern of farmers who “feel very aggrieved that when prices increase that they should get the proportionate share for what they produce”

The 48-hour protest follows a similar action last month when some 6,000 farmers blockaded processing plants across the Republic.

On this latest occasion fewer plants have been blockaded.

Farmers are angry that their colleagues in the UK are being paid much higher prices for their animals that the processing plants have been willing to pay in the Republic

Irish Farmers’ Association president Eddie Downey said prices had increased by 30cent per kilo in the UK in recent months, three times higher than increases in the Republic.

Aside from price, Irish farmers also feel they are being unfairly penalised on price if their animals do not meet exact criteria set down by the processing plants.