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Protests continue at Liffey Meats

Protests continue to intensify at Liffey Meats today as the Beef Plan Movement vowed to fight "24-7" for a fair price.

The intensification of the protests nationwide - which started last Tuesday - prompted Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to call for an end to what they claim are “illegal blockades at factories”.

Last Friday there were only about 30 involved in the Ballyjamesduff protest, but those numbers have reportedly swollen today. Gardaí attended the scene yesterday, and again this morning.

MII outlined in a statement on Tuesday evening that the beef farmers' protests have caused “costly disruption to normal processing of livestock (both cattle and sheep)"

"As of today, we understand that there are up to nine sites not operating as livestock coming in have been blocked by Beef Plan protestors, something which contravenes their own guidelines. Many other plants are only operating at minimal levels.”

Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy called on Minister Creed and MII to engage urgently with farm organisations to resolve the critical situation that beef farmers are in. Mr Carthy, who has visited protesting farmers in Ballyjamesduff, Ballyhaunis, and Clones, said that beef farmers are at “breaking point".
“The farmers I have spoken with are very clear that they cannot afford to walk away from these protests unless they receive firm commitments that measures will be put in place to address the inequalities that underpin the beef sector in Ireland today. I commend the farmers for taking a stand and also those hauliers and veterinarians who have demonstrated solidarity by not crossing the picket.
“Farmers are not asking for anything radical, they are simply requesting that they receive a fair price for their product and a guarantee that they will be paid more than their cost of production. The current situation whereby processors receive 50% more from an animal that they keep for three days than a farmer that raised and fed the animal for two years is not tenable and is unfair by any standard. 
“The beef farmers share of the supermarket sale price amounts to just 20%, is it any wonder that farmers are at the constant brink of bankruptcy.  At €8,300, cattle rearing incomes amount to around a third of what is considered the living wage. That the European Commission and the Irish government know this and yet proceed to propose the flooding of the EU market with cheap Brazilian imported beef is further evidence that they are intent on allowing the Irish family farm to be consigned to history."
Micheál Rafferty of the Beef Plan Movement insists that MII must remove their precondition that the protests stop before discussions take place. Mr Carthy echoed this statement. 

“I call on Meat Industry Ireland to drop its preconditions to talks and come to an agreement with the farmers that offers them a viable future.
“The silence from the Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, since the Beef Plan protests began, has been deafening.  He cannot play the role of the detached observer – the government has a role to intervene to resolve this dispute as a matter of urgency and Minister Creed has a responsibility to personally intervene.”



Former Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith also slammed Minister Creed.

"The Minister can’t simply sit back and watch from the side-lines as the situation deteriorates by the day. He should immediately meet with the farmer representative organisations and the meat industry and give leadership at this time of crisis.
“Base beef prices for steers are now as low at €3.45 kg which is lower than experienced during the reference period of September to May covered by the recently announced €100 million EU co funded BEAM scheme.  
“Further assistance for farmers is going to be required and Minister Creed needs to provide the assurances that this will be forthcoming," said the Fianna Fáil TD.
“Minister Creed must also act to ensure that there is transparency brought to the meat industry and see that factories are not allowed to continuously take advantage of famers’ weak position in the food supply chain.

“Farmers are rightly worried and angry. The have asked legitimate questions which need to be answered. Minister Creed has to come forward and ensure these issues are addressed before the crisis in the beef sector in Cavan-Monaghan worsens.”



MII's statement proceeded to accuse the Beef Plan men of breaching their own guidelines. 

“However, the unlawful behaviour of some protestors at certain sites continues to go well beyond the guidelines issued by Beef Plan itself and is resulting in unacceptable abuse and intimidation of fellow farmer suppliers, company employees, government assigned veterinarians and other service providers including hauliers. Some of these protests have been joined by non-farming elements that has added a sinister undertone,” the spokesperson alleges.

The statement continues: “It is contemptible that Beef Plan has now, in the face of widespread evidence of unlawful blockading and intimidation, sought to blame factories for hostile actions that are clearly being perpetrated by Beef Plan protestors. It is clear from recent social media postings by Beef Plan that they have no control over the disruptive protests which they have initiated, and which have now escalated into outrageous behaviour at many sites.”