The latest developments, that farmers will be cut 20c/kg for cattle marginally overweight and overage will be a huge blow to farmers, according to Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy.

Carthy also said that these cuts undermine the suckler cow herd.

“The fact is that EU commission data shows that the average carcass weights in Ireland are already below those in Britain, Italy, France and Germany – our major trading partners and export markets.

“With Irish beef currently being in surplus, arbitrary demands such as weight and age limits create further surplus and create an environment where farmers are vulnerable to price manipulation and market abuse.”

Furthermore, he said that ongoing issues such as those around the labelling of meat and weight demands from processors threaten the future of the Irish beef industry.

Many farmers, unable to secure a fair price for their produce, will simply be faced with no other option that to leave the industry.

“It is time to address these issues once and for all in a manner that is conducive to securing the future of Irish beef and protecting the livelihoods of our farming community.”

Carthy also said that it is disappointing that despite the detailed evidence that has been forwarded to the relevant institutions, the political system thus far has failed to address or challenge the entities who are acting as obstacles to the single EU market.

“With this in mind, I have written to Minister Michelle O’Neill in the North and Minister Simon Coveney to invite them to a meeting with the key representatives of the industry in order to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing issues that threaten Irish farmers.”

Carthy said that he expects confirmation from both Ministers.

The Sinn Fein MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development committee, said he hopes that the meeting will have representation from all farm organisations north and south as well as representatives from marts.

Meat processors and retailers will be invited to participate, he confirmed.