Allowing cattle into plants for inspections a ‘sensible compromise’

An agreement between protesters and meat factory management at Meadow Meats in Rathdowney, Co. Laois, has been called a “sensible compromise” by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Yesterday, Wednesday, August 29, protesters at the site agreed to allow a certain number of cattle to enter the site, in time for a visit by inspectors from China.

ICSA president Edmond Phelan welcomed the “pragmatic approach” by both protesters and plant management – and highlighted the contrast between this agreement and the meat plants who are using “heavy-handed legal tactics”.

This sensible compromise between the farmers and the Rathdowney management stands in massive contrast to the belligerent approach on-going in the High Court.

“I have repeatedly said that heavy-handed legal tactics are no solution to the Chinese impasse. We all want to see more sales to China but farmers have to get their fair share,” said Phelan.

After visiting the Rathdowney plant, Phelan said that he supported “anything which would increase markets for Irish beef and lamb, provided that farmers get their fair share of profits”.

He stressed, though, that farmers had “seen nothing” out of international trade deals.

Farmers are sick and tired of doing all the work while those further down the food chain grab all the profit. Farmers need a substantial price rise immediately if they are to avoid going bust.

Phelan said he was “shocked” at factories “jumping the gun” and going to the High Court.

“I find it hard to believe that meat factories think that persecuting the very farmers that have made billionaires out of beef barons is the solution to the beef crisis,” he said.

Phelan went on: “It beggars belief that nasty litigation is what meat factories are resorting to. A resumption of talks is now all but impossible with this approach. ICSA cannot enter talks while individual farmers who are on their knees are threatened in this manner.”

The ICSA president concluded: “Far from being a solution, the likely outcome is that many more farmers will now rush to join the protests. This can hardly be the optimum outcome for factories but it is now the likely consequence of their legal bully-boy tactics.”

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