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Irish farmers show their beef with factories and retailers in McDonald's protest

Members of the Irish Farmer’s Association gathered outside the McDonald’s in Kilkenny to protest cuts to their income.

Updated at 23.10pm

FARMERS HELD A protest outside a McDonald’s in Kilkenny today amid anger over their ongoing financial situation.

The protest was organised by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and was in opposition to cuts in beef pricing and demands for younger cattle that have lead to farming incomes being slashed.

Speaking about the cuts, President of the IFA Eddie Downey, said:

With beef prices down by €200 per head from the last and at incomes ranging from €9,469 to €15,595, as confirmed by Teagasc, livestock farmers feel angry and frustrated that their issues are being ignored.

McDonalds protest2 IFA President Eddie Downey and National Beef Chairman Henry Burns Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

The protest was aimed at highlighting the responsibility of major food outlets like McDonald’s, Burger King and Supermacs in ensuring fair pricing for farmers. In a statement today the IFA stated that:

Acknowledging the high quality and standards of McDonald’s Europe and their commitment to Irish beef… Irish farmers like their EU colleagues are entitled to a viable income for their work and investment.

In response to the protest, McDonald’s issued a statement saying, ”McDonald’s has not altered any of its specifications in terms of the cuts of beef it uses in its products and has significantly increased its purchase of Irish beef over the past five years.”

McDonald’s remains committed to supporting the Irish beef and Irish agri-food sector.

There were also calls for Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to demand that factories meet their commitments under the Quality Payment System (QPS). The IFA called for the removal of specifications cuts on dual pricing, weights, age and breeds, as these were never part of the original QPS.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns said: “The Minister must ensure that there is strong competition and transparency in the beef sector. Cattle prices must fairly reflect market returns.”

McDonalds protest6 Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

Yesterday, Minister Coveney met with representatives from the Irish beef processing industry over the problems being experienced by the sector. The meeting followed on from recent discussions with the IFA and retailers.

During the meeting Coveney made reference to the Dowling Report which had been commissioned during the Beef Forum in April this year. The report made recommendations in reference to price transparency and communications with the industry.

On the meeting Coveney said: ”I called on processors to show further flexibility on weight specifications and I am pleased to say that they have now indicated that they are open to that. While matters such as price and commercial specifications are ultimately issues for the operators in the marketplace, there is a clear need at this stage for some confidence building measures for beef farmers.”

First published 15.50

Read: Beef farmers launch “blitz” at Tesco in Naas

Also: Irish farmers’ anger at ‘decimation’ of income

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