Farmer protest update: What picket lines have stood down?

A total of 20 farmer protests outside meat processing plants across the country have now officially stood down, AgriLand understands.

Tonight, Saturday, September 21, a number of protesters – that purport to be mediators for some of the individual farmers – have said that five more picket lines have ceased including: Dawn Meats in Carrolls Cross, Co. Waterford; Kepak in Drumquin, Co. Clare; Liffey Meats in Hackettstown, Co. Carlow;  Dawn Meats in Rathdowney, Co. Laois; and Kepak in Ballymahon, Co. Longford.

Earlier today, it was confirmed that the following 15 picket lines have officially disbanded: Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo; ABP in Ferrybank, Co. Waterford; Dawn Meats in Grannagh, Co. Waterford; Dawn Meats in Slane, Co. Meath; ABP in Cahir Co. Tipperary; ABP in Nenagh Co. Tipperary;  Dawn Meats in Charleville, Co. Cork; Kepak in Watergrasshill, Co. Cork; Dawn Meats in Grannagh, Co. Waterford; Kepak in Athleague, Co. Roscommon; Ashbourne Meats in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary; Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo; Kepak in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath; ABP in Bandon, Co. Cork; ABP in Clones, Co. Monaghan.

It is understood that efforts will now continue to bring a close to the remaining farmer protests at: Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan; Slaney Meats near Bunclody, Co. Wexford; Kepak in Ennis, Co. Clare; Liffey Meats in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.

It is understood that a number of farmer representative groups and individuals are involved in the talks and mediation with the remaining protest lines aimed at explaining the detail of the new Irish Beef Sector Agreement that was accepted by all stakeholders involved in the second round of beef sector reform talks at Agriculture House in Dublin last weekend.

Agreement details

The two-strand agreement focuses on, what it calls, “immediate benefits” for farmers, which involves a number of interventions for beef producers.

The following interventions were agreed:
  • The immediate introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30-36 months, which meet all non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus;
  • An immediate increase of two thirds of the current in-spec for steers and heifers from 12c/kg to 20c/kg;
  • The introduction of a new in-spec bonus of 12c/kg for steers and heifers under-30 months in the categories of grade O- and fat score 4+ which currently does not qualify for any bonus;
  • The in-spec 70-day residency requirement will be reduced to 60 days on the last farm;
  • Bord Bia will develop a Beef Market Price Index Model based on three components – cattle price index, beef market price index (retail and wholesale) and an offal price indicator, which will be introduced the week commencing September 16;
  • An immediate scientific review of the Quality Payment Grid by Teagasc, the first stage of the review, a desk-top analysis of the pricing structure of the grid on the basis of meat yield/conformation, to be completed by the end of October;
  • The establishment of a Beef Market Taskforce.

Additionally, strand two of the agreement, entitled “Strategic Structural Reforms”, sets out strategic measures which seek to address “structural imbalances” in the beef sector.

However, under the heading ‘Resolution of Dispute’ it is stated that the agreement will only enter into force following the cessation of all protests and blockades.

At last weekend’s talks all parties – including: Meat Industry Ireland (MII); the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA); Macra na Feirme; Independent Farmers’ Organisations of Ireland; Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA); Beef Plan Movement; the Irish Natura Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA); and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – agreed to the following:

  • Blockades and protests will be removed immediately and all parties to this agreement will ensure that this happens;
  • Thereafter, beef processors will undertake that all legal proceedings against farm organisations and/or individual farmers will be withdrawn in relation to this matter;
  • Parties agree that any future disputes should, in the first instance, be brought before the beef market taskforce in order to maintain the integrity of the agreement;
  • If any party fails to comply with these provisions, the agreement lapses;
  • The agreement enters into force following the cessation of all protests and blockades.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further updates on this developing story as further picket lines are expected to stand down throughout the day…