ICMSA questions restaurants’ association chief’s comments on beef dispute

The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, has thanked the Irish Restaurants’ Association chief executive Adrian Cummins for his “contribution” to the ongoing beef crisis debate.

Earlier today, Wednesday, September 18, Cummins called for an end to the protests outside factory gates.

He claimed that some restaurants won’t have beef on the menu from next week due to a lack of supply from meat distributors.

He pointed out to farmers on the picket lines that the people of Ireland are behind them and said that now was the time “to wear the green jersey” and urged them to lift the blockade in the interest of Irish businesses, international reputation, jobs and the future of Irish food exports.

‘The national interest’

McCormack, meanwhile, said he was “skeptical” about Cummins’ suggestion that those on the pickets should be criticised and asked to put aside their anger “in the national interest”. He said:

It is remarkable that links further along the food chain were never told to adjust their attitudes, policies – or prices – in the ‘national interest’.

“Perhaps a lot of the anger and demoralisation that had led directly to this bitter dispute could – and should – have been avoided if those at the retail end of the supply chain had occasionally looked back over their shoulders.

“They would then have been able to check whether the farmer and primary producers behind them were being paid a decent price for the food that was being sold to consumers and customers.

“I wonder whether a record that showed an insistence that the people behind you actually producing the food got paid properly wouldn’t be more beneficial at this stage than appeals to national interest?”

‘A long time coming’

The ICMSA’s president went on to say that he appreciated that the country needed to get back to processing.

“We are getting to the point where permanent damage is a possibility,” he said.

But the problems that have led us here are a long time coming…

McCormack concluded: “Retailers have been very silent over that period about the terrible prices being paid to the farmers behind them in the chain.

“That’s going to have to change – in the ‘national interest’.”