IFA is set to protest outside Slaney Meats over the proposed sale of a 50% stake in the business to Larry Goodman’s ABP group.

The protest which will take place at the Slaney Meats plant in Bunclody, Co. Wexford on Sunday, February 7 is set to highlight price and competition issues in the beef sector.

The IFA’s National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said that farmers have real concerns around competition in the beef processing sector, due to the sale of a 50% share of the Slaney/ICM business to ABP.

This investment would give ABP effective control on up to 29% of the beef kill and three of the six rendering plants in the country, he said.

Sheep farmers are equally concerned at the investment, as ICM controls 40% of the lamb kill.

Burns said the Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (CPCC) has told IFA that there is nothing stopping Minister Coveney from having a view on the proposed merger.

And as a result the IFA has called on Minister Coveney to make a submission to the competition authority on the importance of protecting and guaranteeing competition in the processing sectors.

The IFA Livestock leader said cattle farmers cannot understand why the Minister is adopting such a detached policy on this critically-important competition issue.

Burns also said that Minister Coveney should take a real interest and address the lack of competition in the beef sector and the unacceptable price gap that has opened up between Irish and British cattle prices.

The Livestock Chairman has also called on Minister Coveney to be more supportive of the live export trade and he must lead the drive to open live markets in Egypt, Libya and Turkey.

The Minister must also resolve the EU labeling issues that are being used by processors and retailers to impede the live export trade and deny price competition, he said.