Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he supports the decision of some beef farmers to re-commence protests outside processing plants and factories.
Beef farmers have said they are facing financial ruin because of low prices for meat from processors, and angry farmers were back on the picket line this week after “disappointing” conclusions to negotiations with the meat industry.
Deputy McGrath joined more than 30 farmers gathered at the gates of ABP in Cahir, Co Tipperary to protest at the low price they are receiving for meat. Farmers say that a price of €3.50 per kg means they will be driven out of the business of rearing cattle – and they point out that beef sells at an average retail price of almost €9.00.
“The farmers I spoke to feel utterly betrayed by the outcome of so-called negotiation process,” said The Tipperary TD. “Picketing was the last resort for them, but they are adamant that they will not move until genuine progress has been made on the core issue of pricing justice and a revision of the completely arbitrary 30-month rule.”
The 30-month rule refers to a bonus payment of 12c per kilo that farmers can receive if animals are under 30 months old at slaughter.
“At this point, they are calling on Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to release any and all analysis that they have commissioned can be found to justify the 30-month rule,” Deputy McGrath confirmed.
“It is hugely frustrating for these farmers to hear MII reps asking them to cease their protests simply to avoid disruption to the upcoming plant visits by the Chinese delegation,” he also pointed out. “That is nothing but a further attempt to shift the blame for the chaos and inequity within the system on to the farmers themselves.”
He said the meat industry and Minister Creed, through years of inaction, had directly brought about the scenario farmers are now in.
“They are the ones who have undermined the sustainability of the entire sector and they are the ones who must compromise, not the hard working farmer who is still as badly off today as he was 4 weeks ago,” he said.