This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
Advertisement

Farmers continue to protest at meat factories despite voting to stand down blockades

Farmers are continuing to protest despite votes to stand down the blockades.

Farmers have refused to stand down protests.
Farmers have refused to stand down protests.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

Updated Sep 19th 2019, 3:50 PM

FARMERS ARE CONTINUING to protest at meat processing factories today despite organisations calling for blockades to be stood down. 

The number of protesters at the gates of factories has dwindled in recent days and votes have been held in which farmers voted to stand down the demonstrations. 

Last night, farmers at ABP Food Group’s Ferrybank factory in Waterford voted in favour of ending protests and TheJournal.ie understands another vote is to be held at a Dawn Meats plant in Waterford this evening. 

But some protesters returned to the gates this morning while factories across Waterford and other parts of the country remain on lockdown with no trucks getting in or out of the premises. 

Yesterday, protesters at Dawn Meats in Slane put an end to the protests after a legal action was lodged against the Beef Movement Ireland, according to the Irish Farmer’s Journal.

In a statement this afternoon, Liffey Meats has appealed to protesters to lift blockades at its factory gates. 

It said it has over 500 employees waiting to return to work and that many of its 10,000 farmer suppliers “want to sell their cattle”. 

“These blockades are having a hugely negative impact both locally and in the surrounding communities, and a lot of local businesses and suppliers to our business are suffering as a result,” a spokesperson for Liffey Meats said. 

It is extremely disappointing that despite agreements reached in good faith with all farming organisations last weekend, we have seen no evidence that blockades at our plants are set to cease. 

“We would appeal to the protesters to lift the blockades in the interest of all concerned and give the agreement a chance to work.” 

Kieran Delaney, a farmer based in Birr Co. Offaly has been attending the pickets at a Nenagh meat factory and said he has no intention of standing down. 

“I am very much going to keep picketing,” he told TheJournal.ie. 

“I am going to the ploughing today and then I’m back on the picket tomorrow and that’s the general feel among farmers. The fear is that if pickets start to lift in factories around the country we won’t have the support but we are looking at other options too.”

Stand down

Farming organisations made fresh calls for farmers to stand down blockades at factories as fresh talks get underway today. 

The Beef Plan Movement agreed to stand down protests in the agreement made with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed at the weekend. 

It has been urging farmers in recent days not to continue with blockades and has been working with other farming organisations, including the Irish Farmers’ Association and Irish Cattle and Sheep farmers’ Association to de-escalate tensions. 

“Sometimes these pickets are unsafe to approach, they can be dangerous and we’ve seen that in recent days so we have to ensure they’re safe to approach,” Dermot O’Brien, chair of the south-west region said. 

“We are aware there are votes happening and different organisations are helping to stand this down. We’ve gone down in person, we tried to make contact with people on picket lines, in the hope they will stand down.”

He added: “The main point we need to explain is that some of these people on the pickets are not farmers at all. The meat processors seem to think that the beef plan movement is still involved in the protests and we are not.”

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) today made a fresh call for farmers to stand down their blockades outside factories and allow plants to reopen this morning. 

It also called for companies involved in the dispute to reconsider their approach to the base price of beef, which has been the issue at the centre of the dispute. 

“I would now urge factories to reopen and to come forward with a strong base price. This would help to start the process of building some sort of trust and to get the industry up and running,” IFA president Joe Healy said. 

“Farmers with animals to sell should contact their factories and drive the hardest possible bargain on the base price,” he added. 

An agreement was made between representatives of farming organisations and Meat Industry Ireland following talks with Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. 

It allowed for increased bonuses for farmers based on animal’s ages and residency period as well as the withdrawal of all legal actions, in exchange for farmers discontinuing the blockades. 

Not all farmers agreed, however, and many continued to protest and block entrances to meat plants in the days that followed. 

“The independent review of specifications, including the 30-month age limit, the four movements and the residency period will be very important for many farmers. IFA is clear that if the review shows that these cannot be justified on the grounds of market access, then they should be abolished immediately.”

Impact

The dispute has had a knock on effect on consumers with supermarkets posting notices that beef products are in limit supply, and restaurants warning that beef options are to be removed from some menus from next week. 

Jobs have also been put at risk with several hundred people temporarily laid off at meat processing plants. 

Meat Industry Ireland claims over 3,000 people have been temporarily laid off from factories across the country. 

This week, ABP confirmed it was forced to temporarily lay of 355 staff at its Cahir plant in Tipperary with a further 182 jobs predicted to go by the end of the week. 

“The protesters have stopped any product going in to or leaving the site. Production has ceased. Furthermore, these illegal blockades are impacting seriously on the thousands of beef farmers who supply cattle to the site,” a statement from the company said. 

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

Read next:

COMMENTS (38)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel