Irish beef protest situation escalates


By Aidan Fortune, GlobalMeatNews



Members of Irish farmer lobby group Beef Plan have pledged to keep protesting over margins for as long as it takes.


The group, which has been protesting at Irish beef processing plants over the amount farmers receive compared to the retail price, have had round-the-clock presence at more than 20 sites throughout Ireland.


Speaking to Global Meat News, Beef Plan spokesman Enda Fingleton said the protests, which have been going on for almost two weeks, would not be stopped until the group’s requests are met.


“We’re prepared to protest for as long as it takes. The alternative is our livelihood being destroyed so we have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.”​


He also said there would be no cessation of protests during any talks that might take place. “We will not be going into any talks with pre-conditions, including stopping protests,”​ he explained. “The groundswell of these protests has got so big, they cannot be ignored.”​


The group published a list of demands that it feels would help beef farmers survive. “We’re simply not getting the returns for the hard work we’re doing, and the fact that the processors are letting these protests continue for as long as they have, shows there are huge profits being generated for them that they’re looking to protect.”​


Fingleton warned that if the domestic beef sector becomes unsustainable, there would be areas of the country left in financial jeopardy. “Some would be able to shift to arable farming but there are huge portions of the country where this is not possible and the land would be left useless.”​


He also suggested that the Irish meat industry should focus on issues closer to home. “We’ve been beaten with the Brexit stick for the past three years and we can’t remain silent on it any longer. The beef industry received ​€100m support due to Brexit and while that should have been more, we suggested that this money be used to set up a red meat regulator but that has fallen on deaf ears.”​


Beef discussions​


The processors’ trade body Meat Industry Ireland (MII) expressed disappointment that Beef Plan refused to participate in talks involving both parties and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.


Howver Fingleton told Global Meat News that there has been no invitation offered to these talks but expressed openness to discussions.


MII also said it was having to resort to legal action to help resolve the protests. In a statement, it said: