Creed labels ongoing protests as ‘real self-harm’ to beef industry

Minister Michael Creed has reiterated his call for protesters at meat plants around the country to step down from pickets, claiming that the continued actions were causing “real self-harm to our beef industry”.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday morning, Tuesday, September 17, the minister said that the agreement which was agreed on during this past weekend by Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and farmer representatives “reflects the best that can be done at this time, and has been endorsed by all of the parties around the table”.

“In my experience, those farm organisations are not easily persuaded, and to have their imprimatur for an agreement is a significant statement itself, and the point I’m making to those beef farmers is that their voice has been heard and this is as much as can be done at this moment in time,” the minister argued.

The most important point I want to make is we are at a tipping point now. I do acknowledge it is a very difficult time for beef farmers in terms of the incomes they have.

“But there is a bigger picture here. We are an internationally trading country. Our reputation is important to us. The global beef market is extremely competitive, and we are now witnessing self-harm for our beef industry by the continuation of this dispute,” said Minister Creed.

He highlighted the need to “re-engage and reassure” Ireland’s retailers – but added that this was not currently possible.

“This is a globally traded product, and if you look right across Europe at the moment, there is a depressed price for beef. We are at or about the European average price, so it is a challenging market,” argued Minister Creed.

Other characteristics of the market are flat-lining consumption in the European market. Our exports to the UK are down this year because of economic circumstances in the UK, and the growth markets we’ve been trying to exploit are much further afield in terms of costs and access.

According to the minister, the current situation was affecting Ireland’s “international reputation”.

“I would appeal to farmers to read the detail on the document, to acknowledge that their negotiators have done as much as can be done at this moment in time,” he added.

He also called for farmers who had not been on pickets – who he referred to as the “silent majority” – to have “their voices heard”.