Farmers’ right to protest ‘must be respected’ – INHFA

Meat processors have been called on to lift their threat of legal action against individual farmers who are currently protesting outside their plants.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association’s (INHFA’s) national president, Colm O’Donnell, has said: “Farmers should be afforded the same rights as all other citizens and this includes the right to protest.

“The decision by the meat plants to target individual farmers through our courts has if anything galvanised support amongst farmers who feel they have nothing left to lose,” stated O’Donnell.

As we head into the weekend with no solution in sight, there is the real possibility of a prolonged standoff that will inflict major damage on both the beef and sheep sectors.

“We are calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to prioritise round-table discussions between the farm organisations, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and all relevant stakeholders.”

These talks should prioritise the 30-month rule, minimum residency and the four movement rule which farmers, protesting outside the factory gates, see as major stumbling blocks in delivering fairness for them.

In the meantime, all threats by the meat processors of legal action should be suspended.

Concluding, the INHFA president reiterated the need to lift for the threat of legal action against farmers, stating “we need to avoid the prospect of imprisonment for any farmer as this could well be a tipping point that we may not be able come back from.”