The Beef Plan Movement has said that it is not “prepared to accept” suspending its nationwide protests as a precondition for talks with Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The movement also said that the “threat of legal action from large wealthy international corporations does not bode well for their own corporate social responsibility and reputation”.

Eoin Donnelly, chairperson of the group’s western region, said that the movement had invited the minister to review the 13 ‘key issues’ it had raised so that he could “confirm what lies within his legal remit to discuss”.

The group says it is “disappointed and frustrated” by Minister Creed’s position, as well as that of Meat Industry Ireland (MII).

Donnelly said that this invitation was sent to the minister “in clear knowledge that he is not to discuss price/kg with us at any time”.

“Our agenda is clear; we simply want to meet to discuss the 13 points raised. He has declined without a precondition, which is regrettable,” he added.

Commenting on the protected closures that have been issued by a number of factories, the group said it accepts this is “unfortunate for all concerned” – but insists that it is a “human resource matter for factory management”.

Beef Plan farmers have repeatedly told Government that rural Ireland is heavily dependent on beef farmers, and factory personnel need to manage volatility in the market better, to ensure a sustainable future for farmers and all relevant stakeholders.

“Pushing down the price of beef is foolhardy and detrimental to our industry,” said the movement in a statement.

It is also calling on Minister Creed to, “as a matter of urgency”, enact an EU directive on unfair trading practices into Irish legislation.

Legal remedy

Earlier today, Thursday, August 8, MII said in a statement that its member businesses “have been left with no choice other than to seek legal remedy”, in order to bring the protests to an end.

MII referred to this as a “last resort”.

The meat processor representative group also said it was “extremely disappointed” that the Beef Plan Movement turned down Minister Creed’s proposal to bring stakeholders together as long as the protests were stopped.