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Talks had been ongoing all weekend after weeks of protests by farmers. Eamonn Farrell/
Beef row

Agreement reached in beef row as talks conclude between farmers and meat factories

The agreement comes into force once all protests and blockades have stopped.

LAST UPDATE | 15 Sep 2019

AN AGREEMENT HAS been reached between beef farmers and meat processors after weekend talks organised by the agriculture minister Michael Creed concluded this afternoon.  

Eamon Corley, Chairperson of the Beef Plan Movement – one of the groups representing farmers in the talks – confirmed to that an agreement had been reached this afternoon after nearly 30 hours of talks. 

The agreement, seen by, stipulates that it will only enter into force once all protests and blockades at meat factories have ceased. 

“All blockades and protests will be removed immediately and all parties to this agreement will ensure that this happens,” the document states. 

The agreement also commits beef processors to withdrawing all legal proceedings against farm organisations and individual farmers.

Content of the agreement

The four-page document was agreed today in Agriculture House on Kildare St in Dublin, with the details released by the Department of Agriculture this afternoon. 

The main points contained in the agreement include a new bonus for steers and heifers aged between 30 and 36 months, of eight cent a kilogram, as well as the current bonus for 30-month cattle jumping from 12 to 20 cent per kilogram. 

It also states that the Quality Payment Grid will be reviewed and promises the creation of an independently chaired Beef Market taskforce. 

Two reports are also to be commissioned investigating market and customer requirements as well as the price composition of animal value along the supply chain.

The document states that the chair of the Beef Market taskforce, which will “provide leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector”, will be an appointee of the agriculture minister. 

The taskforce, the agreement states, will offer a forum for engagement with retailers. 

Creed has faced growing political criticism for his handling of the beef talks, which have dragged on for the last several weeks. In a statement today following the agreement, he thanked all those involved. 

“I hope that this agreement will prove to be a first step in fostering stronger partnerships in this critical sector for the Irish economy and for rural Ireland,” he said. 

The government will hope that this document can bring to an end the ongoing row between the meat industry and beef farmers, which has seen repeated clashes outside factories and inside courtrooms, after meat processors sought injunctions against farmers and their representatives to prevent blockades. 

Some retailers had also expressed concern about the impact of the row on meat availability. 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney wrote on Twitter that the agreement was “good news”. 

Throughout the row, farmers have demanded greater transparency on beef prices. This agreement appears to have at least partially met that demand, with the taskforce set to examine best practices in other countries and provide more detailed price reporting. 

A draft deal brokered in August with the Beef Plan Movement was rejected by individual farmers. It remains to be seen how farmers will respond to today’s agreement.

RTÉ reported this evening that Independent Farmers of Ireland were claiming not to have signed off on the deal. 

file-photo-michael-creed-said-beef-talks-will-go-ahead-next-monday-end Agriculture minister Michael Creed organised the talks this weekend. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Talks had been moving slowly, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association President Joe Healy. 

In a statement following the talks, Healy said that the deal was “far from perfect”.

“During a difficult endgame to the talks, the farm organisations stood together to get the best available outcome for farmers,” he said. 

Farm groups had met this morning to review the draft document presented by Creed. 

“While there are some aspects which will make a difference immediately, there are others that will require a lot of further work,” he said.

Healy said that a key part of the agreement was the fact that the new beef price index will be rolled out from next week. 

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.

In a statement this evening, a spokesperson for organisation welcomed the agreement but said that this had been a “particularly damaging episode” for the industry. 

With reporting by Sean Murray.  

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