‘Responsibility for a peaceful protest lies with both sides’

Representatives from the Beef Plan Movement have responded to comments made by Meat Industry Ireland (MII) about the ongoing farmer protest.

As the protest – which is described by the Beef Plan as “a peaceful protest at factories” – continues into a second week, the group have confirmed plans to mobilise further protests.

According to a statement from the Beef Plan: “Frustration with the ongoing beef price offered to farmers coupled with no engagement from the main stakeholders has led to this protest.”

The statement said: “Contrary to MII statements, the Beef Plan is adhering to its peaceful protest guidelines and indeed suspending protests if there are breaches of the guidelines outside any factory.”

It further noted: “Responsibility for a peaceful protest lies with both sides.

“Hauliers and persons entering the factory need to be cognisant of the presence of families including children at the protests as there have been many examples of aggressive driving observed.

“Beef farmers are price takers and completely at the mercy of other stakeholders in the beef supply chain.

As the most vulnerable link, Beef Plan call on TD’s and in particular the Government to bring in a form of fair trade legislation to show some solidarity and support for beef farmers.

“The Government must act to enforce greater transparency in the beef supply chain and enforce the findings of the EU Agricultural Markets Taskforce to avoid unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.”

The statement called on MII and the processors to “remember that farmers are not contractually obliged to supply cattle to processors”.

Beef Plan wants MII to engage and bring a meaningful proposal to the table. Until such time, the peaceful protests which have gained in numbers and support from a number of sectors will continue.

“MII need to address rebalancing of beef price through the supply chain in favour of farmers to cover cost of production and include a margin.

“The farmer percentage of the final retail price has been reduced significantly over the years.

“All of the burden with respect to regulation is at the farmers door, input prices for farmers have increased and the beef price to the consumer has increased if anything.”

The statement stressed that “the balance of power is totally lop-sided towards the processor when specifications including the four-movement rule and the age limits are included along with an over-complicated QPS grading system”.

Concluding, the statement said: “The Beef Plan awaits engagement from the Government and MII on these issues and a fair price for a premium product is the request.”