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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020

Farmers begin 12-hour blockade of major Lidl distribution centre in Cork

Farmers are blocking the entrance and exit at the site.

Farmers setting up the blockade outside the Lidl distribution centre this morning.
Farmers setting up the blockade outside the Lidl distribution centre this morning.
Image: Twitter/HaroldKingston

THE IRISH FARMERS Association has begun a 12-hour blockade outside a Lidl distribution centre in Charleville, Co Cork this morning. 

This follows on from yesterday’s protest outside an Aldi distribution centre in Naas, Co Kildare as part of the ongoing dispute over beef prices. 

The IFA, the largest farming organisation in the country, said it is “demanding a significant and immediate beef price increase to bring the Irish beef price at least in line with the Bord Bia European Export Benchmark Price Index”.

The group has accused retailers such as Aldi and Lidl of driving down food prices, with farmers being the ones who lose out. 

A spokesperson for Lidl Ireland said it understands the difficulties faced by many farmers and “appreciates the importance of regular and transparent communication with farming representatives. ”

“As recently as last week, Lidl management had constructive discussions with members of both the BPM and the IFA,” the retailer said. 

“We also know that our customers are hugely appreciative of quality Irish produce. For this reason we are supportive of the work of the Beef Taskforce and hope they can make positive progress rapidly in the interest of all parties.” 

Throughout the summer, farmers staged protests and blockades at plants across the country. Tensions grew with meat factories until an agreement was broached in September, brokered by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and agreed between farmers’ groups – including the IFA and the grassroots Beef Plan Movement campaign – and Meat Industry Ireland.

Three months on, the IFA is continuing to demand a significant price increase. 

IFA protest Charleville, Cork 06.12.19 (1) Source: IFA/John Coughlan

“Retailers have a powerful grip on the food chain and cannot shirk their responsibility to farmers. There is too much buck-passing between processors and retailers in their rush to grab all the profits, leaving farmers in a loss-making situation,” IFA president Joe Healy said.

Farmers are justified in seeking an immediate and meaningful increase in the price of beef. We have had enough excuses from both processors and retailers. Our message to the retailers is clear: tell your beef processors to give their farmers a price increase.

Healy warned that IFA members will continue to take action until processors give a significant price increase. 

John Coughlan, who is running for the IFA presidency, said a new dynamic is needed to “inject urgency and momentum” into the Beef Taskforce.  

Coughlan has called on the government to appoint a facilitator with “a track record of deal-making” such as Kieran Mulvey, Peter Cassells or Bertie Ahern. 

“We need to get in the room, stay in the room, maintain the tempo, and get a deal done.” 

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The Taskforce was agreed to by beef farmers and organisations, and representatives of the beef processing sector in October following weeks of protests.

It’s one of a number of measures, along with a new bonus payment for quality assured cattle, set out in the deal brokered by Creed. 

Farmers had accepted the deal in exchange for the meat industry dropping all legal actions brought against protesting farmers who blockaded the gates of processing plants. 

- With reporting from Dominic McGrath 

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