A SPOKESPERSON for the Beef Plan Movement in Mayo says that while he feels for the farmers who are taking part in unofficial pickets outside meat factories in parts of Ireland, his organisation will not be joining them.
The crisis in the beef industry in Ireland escalated over the weekend when the Beef Plan Movement (BPM) said it would not endorse the outcome of talks involving the Minister for Agriculture, which were aimed at securing higher beef prices for farmers.
On Sunday evening, beef farmers unhappy with the outcome of talks between farm organisations and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) took part in unofficial pickets of some meat-processing facilities around the country. As of Monday afternoon, the Dawn Meats facility in Ballyhaunis had not been picketed in this way.
Mayo BPM vice-Chairman and spokesperson Joe Mulhern told The Mayo News that the farmers who are picketing are not doing so under the BPM banner. He also called on Minister Creed to resume talks.
“The farmers [picketing] are not from the Beef Plan Movement, but I feel for them,” the Lahardane-based suckler and sheep farmer said. “I have no issue with farmers who decide they are entitled to do something [like picket], but I won’t be back on the picket line as long as we are negotiating,” he said, adding that members of the Beef Plan Movement still have threats of legal action from MII hanging over them.
BPM had placed pickets on meat processing facilities across the country at the end of July before agreeing to talks with other farming organisations and MII.
Last week, Minister Creed hailed the talks a success following days of discussions. However, the BPM subsequently said it could not endorse the outcome of the talks and that despite a few small gains, the main key issues had not been addressed in an adequate or meaningful way.
Mr Mulhern agreed with the decision of the BPM national executive, saying there is ‘nothing for suckler farmers’ in the talks’ outcome. No other industry would be treated the way beef farmers are treated, he said.
Reacting to the weekend’s developments, MII said it is ‘very disappointing that protests have resumed at a small number of beef processing sites’.
“Obviously beef price remains a major talking point since the conclusions of the beef talks last week, but beef price was not and could not be discussed during these talks,” an MII spokesperson said, adding: “Furthermore, price is determined by conditions in the market at present which are acknowledged by all as being extremely challenging. There simply isn’t more in the marketplace right now.”