Efforts to lift protests and blockades at meat factories ‘straight away’

A number of representatives from the farm organisations involved in the beef talks – which concluded just a couple of hours ago following a marathon run that began on Saturday, September 14 – left swiftly after emerging from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine building this evening in an effort to convince farmers still protesting outside factory gates to cease their pickets.

This comes on foot of a new agreement between all parties involved in the discussions which includes: a number of interventions for beef producers; actions for improving information along the supply chain; the provision of a Beef Market Taskforce and the implementation of an EU regulation on price reporting.

As part of the conditions in the agreement, blockades and protests will be removed immediately and all parties to the agreement “will ensure that this happens”.

As a result, representatives left the building with some indicating that they were heading for Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff where a picket has been in place for nearly eight weeks.

Will the agreement work?

Enda Fingleton from the Beef Plan Movement told Agriland at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that the organisation’s representatives had taken the demand for an end to protests seriously and subsequently left proceedings immediately to begin discussions with farmers on the picket lines.

Some protests are very entrenched and farmers have already insisted that they won’t move until they get a price rise.

He continued: “Farmers don’t trust the meat industry and maybe they are going to have to see how this agreement works on the ground before they fully buy into it.

“Trust between the farmers and the meat industry is very badly damaged.”

Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), meanwhile, told AgriLand that while the organisation was “happy” that a deal was on the table and the talks had been successful, “we need the factories back to work”.

The factories need to be back at work straight away before any more damage is done.

Healy continued: “We expect that illegal blockades and protests would be moved straight away.

“The parties that represented a wide range of producers at these talks have signed up to the agreement.

Also Read: ‘It’s the best deal 7 farm bodies combined could have achieved’ – Beef Plan Movement

“While it is an agreement that has a lot of positives in it in terms of financial initiatives by the industry in the areas of specifications, bonuses and market transparency – the agreement is dependent on getting back to work.

“Those protests and blockades must be lifted straight away.”