Who are the Beef Plan Movement?
Grassroots organisation has gone from 300 to 20,000 farmer members
The group said it had not organised the recent pickets on Sunday and Monday where a number of farmers resumed protests outside plants, which had been called off prior to entering the talks
The Beef Plan Movement started off as a WhatsApp group made up of a number of farmers, primarily based in the Meath area. Before it took off the social media messaging app groupchat totalled around 300 members, that was nine months ago.
Now the organisation estimates it has around 20,000 members across the country, with 25 county committees set up.
The grassroots organisation formed around a draft plan for better conditions and pricing for beef farmers. In its own words, the organisation states it was set up in the “hope of saving and rejuvenating beef farming in Ireland before it’s too late”.
The organisation gained national prominence in recent weeks, following pickets outside of meat processing factories. The protests later led to talks hosted by the Department of Agriculture.
The negotiations included Beef Plan Movement, the Irish Farmers’ Association, Meat Industry Ireland, the representative body for processors, and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.
However, despite a range of concessions for farmers, Beef Plan Movement has said it does not endorse an agreement reached at the talks last week.
Eamon Corley is co-founder and chairman of the group’s national committee, and runs a farm in Co Meath.
Hugh Doyle, is co-founder and vice-chair, and runs a herd of 100 Limousine, Charolais and Simmental suckler cows on his farm in Summerhill, Co Meath.
The organisation has incorporated a company, Beef Plan Movement Company Ltd. One large meat processing firm, Kepak, issued High Court proceedings against the company, seeking an injunction following protests by farmers at its plant.
On Sunday and Monday, a number of farmers resumed protests outside plants, which had been called off by the Beef Plan Movement prior to entering the talks. The group said it had not organised the recent pickets, in place at around six plants, following the conclusion of the negotiations.
Another factor that will compound difficulties is the volume of animals for sale peaks in the Autumn every year, such is the production cycle.
All this is re-applying pressure on Minister Creed to intervene again to resolve a dispute that has quickly become repolarised.