‘Our members say no’: Beef Plan calls for talks to reopen

The Beef Plan Movement has called for talks on the beef sector to resume, after its members rejected the proposals put forward during last week’s talks.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Monday, August 26, David Whelehan, the vice-chairperson for the Beef Plan’s west region, said that the “resounding feedback” from the group’s members was that “key issues” affecting the sector had not been addressed.

Whelehan said that this was something “the minister [Michael Creed] is going to have to deal with”.

There was a draft proposal that was put forward by Minister Creed at the conclusion of the round-table talks, and we as the Beef Plan Movement had to consult our membership base all around the country, which we have done through a process of regional meetings last Friday night.

“The resounding feedback coming back from our members is – while there are small gains and some concessions made in some of the lesser details that we put forward to negotiate – the main key issues that is affecting our industry…have not been addressed in a meaningful and adequate way,” said Whelehan.

He explained the group has not “signed off on anything” and that the Beef Plan Movement “takes direction from our membership base all the time”.

Fair enough, we have a national council which deals with issues like that, but at the end of the day any decision that is made comes through the membership base.

Whelehan, who is also the chairperson for the group’s Offaly and Westmeath committees, put the ball in Minister Creed’s court.

“Minister Creed is going to have to address these issues. We have taken direction from our membership base. They have come back and said no, the deal that is on the table is not good enough,” he said.

Whelehan also argued that the onus was on the industry representatives to provide proposals for a way forward.

It’s up to the industry itself to come forward with meaningful proposals to ensure that primary producers, who provide processors with the raw products they need to make their businesses sustainable, get a fair share of the end retail price.

Commenting on the farmer protests that have begun at a number of factories around the country, Whelehan stressed that the Beef Plan Movement has not sanctioned or organised these actions, but argued that the farmers involved are “aggrieved with what they are faced with”.

“What I would say is that those individual farmers that are on those lines have public representatives that represent them, and if they need to speak to someone they need to speak to them,” he argued.