Additional reporting by Sylvester Phelan

Retailers have up to now gotten away “pretty much scot-free” in the “dysfunctional” beef food chain, according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy.

Speaking to AgriLand at the IFA’s blockade of the Tesco central distribution centre in Donabate, Co. Dublin, earlier this morning, Monday, December 9, Healy explained that the ongoing protests were not aimed at individual retailers in particular but rather retailers in general.

This follows protests last Thursday and Friday, December 5 and 6, outside distribution centres owned by Aldi and Lidl respectively.

It’s targeting the retailers now because they’ve gotten away pretty much scot-free in this dysfunctional food chain between themselves and the factories.

On the matter of developments last week, Healy said: “People might say ‘wasn’t there a price rise announced on Friday?’ – I think what was announced on Friday is typical of the processors; it’s typical of the Goodman group.

“They issued a statement and they had no figure on it; they got something through to one section of the media; that mentioned 5c/kg. Speaking to some of their people, they thought it was 10c.

“I think the real truth might lie somewhere in the middle – 5c on heifers and 10c on steers. It’s just exactly what we’ve come to expect from the likes of the Goodman Group.

We need to see a significant price rise; we need to see a closer tracking of the Bord Bia price index – and it will be interesting to see today whether there will be another Bord Bia price index or not.

Commenting on the beef price situation in particular, the IFA president said:

“A lot of that gap that has opened up – and continues to open up – between Ireland and the EU and Ireland and the UK price; we need that to be closed, and 5c/kg isn’t closing that gap and neither is 10c/kg.”

Asked if the IFA is planning more demonstrations, the president said: “We’ll see; we take it from day to day.

“This is our third place today. And what we want here is for the retailers to get a very clear message across to the beef processors that beef farmers have to see a price rise immediately.

There’s no reason why anything that was announced last Friday couldn’t have arrived three weeks ago. Even last Friday – why wasn’t it announced at the Beef Taskforce last Tuesday?

“I’ll tell you why – because it left an extra close on €1 million in the beef processors’ pockets – and that €1 million should be out with the farmers.”