Michael Creed (right) has convened the talks for today. Eamonn Farrell
beef prices

Calls for no more 'posturing and game playing' as minister convenes beef dispute talks

Minister Michael Creed said it’s important both sides enter talks with a “firm intention to reach agreement”.

MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE Michael Creed will today convene talks with farmers and meat processors as efforts step up in a bid to end the ongoing beef prices dispute, saying “now is the time to take a step back from entrenched positions”. 

The row centres around the prices farmer are getting for cattle which are down considerably on last year. The dispute has seen unofficial pickets by farmers at processing facilities around the country.

Meat processors have taken injunctions against protesters to try to clear the way for their trucks to move in and out of facilities, with the most recent injunction ruling yesterday permanently preventing protesters from blockading a premises in the midlands.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has claimed that 3,000 employees at meat processing plants around the country have been “temporarily laid off” as a result of the dispute.

The chairman of the Beef Plan Movement – an association of farmers campaigning for higher prices for their produce -  Eamon Corley told last week that “factories are going to have to realise that a sustainable price for farmers is going to have to be secured”.

He added that in any talks “there has to be an avenue for price to be discussed”. 

In confirming the talks today, Minister Creed said it was important both sides today take a “positive approach towards resolving their differences”. 

“I expect all sides to recognise the urgency of the current situation, and to enter talks in good faith and with a firm intention to reach agreement,” he said. 

The Irish Farming Association has welcomed the talks taking place today.

“Meat Industry Ireland and the minister must come forward with concrete and substantive proposals to resolve the issues and improve the position of farmers,” he said.

We can’t afford to spend any time on posturing and game playing.  We need to get this solved this weekend.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy also put the pressure on Minister Creed to bring forward “real and meaningful proposals” today. 

“The key to the resolution of this dispute is to ensure the sustainability of livelihoods for Irish beef farmers and that means tackling and resolving the issue of the price they receive for their produce and the dominant position of the factories and retailers in the market chain,” he said. 

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