Beef Plan holds export protest outside minister’s office

Members of the Beef Plan Movement gathered outside the office of the Minister of State, Andrew Doyle, at the Department of Agriculture this morning (Tuesday, March 5) in a protest.

Approximately 25 members of the movement assembled outside Minister Doyle’s office in Wicklow to demonstrate against a perceived lack of action in relation to live calf exports.

Hugh Doyle, vice chairman of the group, spoke to AgriLand at the protest.

Commenting on why they were there he said: “It’s just basically to demonstrate the serious disconnect between politicians – and I’m talking about the Government in general – and rural Ireland.

“At the end of the day, Seamus [Scallon, of Wicklow Calf Company], who’s a live shipper, he flagged this last October. The Government knew about it; some of the larger farm organisations knew about it – and they did absolutely nothing.

“And the solution is quite simple; it’s extra lairage facilities – which now, he found out only yesterday, there are extra lairage facilities in a place called Abbeville. And when they contacted those lairage facilities, they said that nobody from the Government had talked to them.”

Doyle said that the current scenario is that, where calves were worth €80 or €100 last year, they are currently being sold for anywhere from zero to €8 or €10, which he labelled “an absolute disgrace”.

‘Second largest organisation’

“The one thing that we want to demonstrate here as part of the Beef Plan is that politicians are going to be held to account.

“If they want to turn their back on the second largest organisation – which is now the Beef Plan; as of yesterday we were just short of 19,000 members – we will hold them to account and come to the local elections and European elections.

What they forget is we have 19,000 members – and by 19,000 members we have 19,000 families. And when you blow those numbers open we can actually make a difference.

“And if the politicians are not working for us as farmers, they may go and look for another job,” Doyle said.

Seamus Scallan also commented at the demonstration, saying: “Why we came here today is to do with the lairages in France; and the price of the beef. This junior minister is not doing his job.

“Calves at the minute are making from €3 to €20-25, and €15 and €10. The farmers are getting treated very badly at the minute.

“It’s no good to my business for me personally as a shipper,” he said, adding that he had previously outlined the situation to Minister Doyle.