Disgruntled ‘grassroot’ beef farmers in Co. Meath are challenging the IFA on its handling of the beef crisis and are planning a number of meetings in the coming weeks to address the issues in the industry.

‘IFA Grassroots’ is a group of beef farmers, primarily from Co. Meath who joined forces in recent months to address issues in the beef industry. They are now calling on beef farmers all over the country to join forces with them and address the issues head on.

“The factories and retailers hold on the industry is now stronger and more serious than ever. The irony is that we farmers have the land and the cattle but are unable to bring our strength to bear,” a spokesman for the group said.

He said that some of its members met with IFA President Eddie Downey, IFA Livestock Director Kevin Kinsella and IFA General Secretary Pat Smith in recent weeks to highlight the issues of the beef industry but were dissatisfied with the response they got from the IFA. “The talking and negotiations of the past 15 years has failed and there is nothing positive to show for it. It’s time action came from the bottom up, not the top down.

“We believe the direction the leadership the IFA is taking on the issue is flawed, will achieve nothing in the long term and the past 10 years leading to the present situation confirms our thinking.”

‘IFA Grassroots’ held a number of meetings around Meath in May, including in Summerhill, Kells and Navan. “The consensus at the meetings was that farmers need to get a viable price for cattle or get out of cattle rearing. It’s the farmers who own the cattle and land, but are farming at a loss.” He went on to stay that that group believes the only reason this is happening is that farmers throughout the country are not united and that farmer organisations have questions to answer on this.

The issue of nomad cattle, he said, was the final straw for the group which is looking to build on the momentum of disquiet among beef farmers across the country. “We attended the meeting in Ballinasloe recently and know beef farmers are very unhappy at the moment. It’s time farmers took action.

“It is no longer an option to produce cattle and hand them over at the farm gate at whatever price big business decides to pay. It will be necessary for farmers into the future to be part of the marketing and selling of their own produce in order to achive a fair price and that is what IFA grassroots is about.”

Details of a nationwide meeting are yet to be finalised but it is expected the meeting will take place in Mullingar within weeks.