Farmers protesting outside the beef processing facility in Cahir, Co. Tipperary, have suspended their protest and “disappeared” for seven hours.

The protesters left the site at 1:00pm today, Thursday, August 29, and sources have said they will be returning at 8:00pm this evening.

The protesters told AgriLand that this was to allow officials from China to inspect Irish beef plants, with a view to opening further access for Irish exports to the Asian country.

It is understood the agreement was made between the factory representatives, the protesters and members of an Gardai.

Farmers that were protesting at the facility said that an agreed amount of cattle was also allowed entry to the factory.

Beef Plan letter

Separately, the Beef Plan Movement – which has been urging its members not to participate in the ongoing protests – has sent a letter to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, stating its rejection of the conclusions reached at the recent beef stakeholder talks and claiming that Bord Bia’s performance during the discussions “effectively discredited” the agency in the eyes of Beef Plan members.

The letter, seen by AgriLand, was written by Beef Plan negotiator and western regional chairman Eoin Donnelly, and rejected the talks based on the “lack of progress on outstanding issues”, namely the 30-month age limit, four-movement limit and 70-day single farm residency prior to slaughter.

The letter acknowledges Minister Creed’s request for a proposal to suggest additional progress on the current situation, as well as the work done to date in talks but criticises Meat Industry Ireland’s (MII) “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” approach, stating that this “undermined the progress made”.

“The entrenched position of MII on these points suggests that further engagement with them will be of little benefit at this time – even under your direct involvement.”