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Farmer protests end outside factories - but meat industry says 100,000 cattle in backlog

The protests ended last night after almost two months of disputes over beef prices.

The final farmer blockades stood down last night.
The final farmer blockades stood down last night.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

OVER 100,000 CATTLE have been backed up in processing due to protests outside meat plants around the country in recent weeks, according to Meat Industry Ireland (MII). 

The group says blockades have been removed from beef processing facilities across the country and some processing has recommenced in the plants. 

Beef processing will likely be fully operational again later this week and sheep processing has already begun in plants in the west of Ireland. 

MII says employees recently laid off from beef plants will be contacted about work beginning again. However, workers at some plants allegedly may not return to work as they have gained employment in other sectors. 

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said it was the right decision to call off the pickets, but urged the government and meat industry to use this opportunity to bring about radical reform. 

“The farmers who this weekend decided to stand down from their protests made the right call,” said Carthy in a statement.

“But, that doesn’t mean that government and industry can return to normal. Action is required by the factories themselves but also by government.”

IFA President Joe Healy said factories must pay the increased bonuses agreed in the deal between members of the meat industry and beef farmers on 15 September. 

“Factories should come forward with a strong base price and pay the new bonuses,” said Healy in a statement. 

“This agreement is not perfect, but I want to make it clear that it applies equally to all farmers regardless of their scale.”

The agreement included a base price at individual plant level for steers and heifers regardless of age or breed, an increase of 8c per kg in the bonus for cattle and a new bonus for cattle aged between 30 and 36 months.  

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