Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín is to launch a bill to ban below-cost selling in the beef industry. Speaking from the Ploughing Championships, the Aontú leader said the measure is needed to tackle the “dysfunctional” beef market.

“The Beef Crisis continues to spiral out of control. The failure of recent talks hosted by Minister Creed show very clearly that the minister is not capable of bringing about a sustainable solution to this crisis,” Deputy Tóibín said.

“Farmers have returned to the pickets, supermarkets being picketed and now there is an increased likelihood of tractors being driven on mass into Dublin and other cities. The longer this crisis continues the more damage is done to the meat industry and to the famers around the country.”

He was highly critical of Minister Michael Creed’s handling of the crisis.

“The Minister’s handling of the crisis to date has been weak and confused. The talks organised by the government were inadequate from the start. The government initially refused access to the talks to representatives of protesting farmers and never invited the supermarket multiples. Minister Creed has failed to get a grip of the situation,” the Meath TD said.

“The beef market is dysfunctional. It is asymmetric. Factories have enormous buyer power while farmers have practically no supplier power. A small number of factories and supermarket multiples are making hundreds of millions of euro of profit on the backs of the poverty and debt of Beef Farmers. This is unfair and unsustainable and is pushing farmers off the land around the country. All this is happening in the teeth of Brexit and government plans to ratchet up imports in bargain-basement beef from Brazil”.

Meat processors announced more temporary lay-offs today as a result of meat plant blockades, with 355 workers being temporarily let go from a plant in Cahir, Co Tipperary. Howeever, farners say they cannot survive on the below-cost prices they are getting from

Deputy Tóibín said the best solution was when all parties prospered. “We in Aontú want to ensure that there is a fair distribution of profit within the beef supply chain. We want to see an industry where all components are successful. We ant to ensure that we have food security into the future. We also want to see a rural Ireland that’s alive and prospering,” he said.

“This has been done in a number of other sectors, most noticeably the grocery market, and plans are afoot with regards alcohol. We are also writing to the Teagasc and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to request that steps be taken to introduce long term competitive balance into the beef industry. We are calling on the government to provide supports to farmers to develop Producer Groups which are the ultimate solution in this sector.”