The “dysfunctional nature” of the beef industry in Ireland must be addressed from top to bottom if it is to move forward to a sustainable footing, according to midlands-north west MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

He was reacting to the news that Meat Industry Ireland (MII) yesterday walked away from talks with other industry stakeholders.

Flanagan said: “The protesting beef farmers have rightly identified the key issues that are undermining their sector: the 30-month rule; the four-movement rule and the 70-day residency rule.

These rules have no scientific justification and are trade distorting and are anti-competitive.

He urged farmers to “hold steadfast” in demanding movement on these issues.

Continuing, the independent MEP said: “These rules are price controlling and price deflating in themselves; the focus should remain on their removal and not be distracted into other side issues.

“The structure that is in place has manipulated farmers into a weak and vulnerable position in the food-supply chain.

The current centralised model of processing is not delivering for the primary producer.

Concluding Flanagan said: “The future must focus on creating genuine quality brands at localised level, achieving PGI status for them, that can command a premium on the market.

“This must be done while ensuring the primary producer shares in the added value that is generated.”