The head of Meat Industry Ireland, Cormac Healy has called on protesters at meat processing plants to call off their action and to allow businesses to get back to work.
Mr Healy warned that if processing does not resume then customers will go elsewhere which will lead to the end of the sector.
This is the 12th day of the blockade with 14 meat plants around the country now closed and staff temporarily laid off. There is a “significant level of disruption and intimidation” at the plants, he said.
Minister for Agriculture and Food, Michael Creed said efforts by his office to reach out to the Beef Plan Movement and begin talks had been rejected.
The Beef Plan Movement reiterated its stance that it "will not enter into talks with preconditions attached" and that the pickets will continue.
Meat Industry Ireland said earlier this week that it will not engage in negotiations as long as pickets are in place outside beef plants.
Mr Healy repeated that position adding that the industry now had little option but to find legal recourse.
“We have to try to get the plants back and up running.”
Mr Healy acknowledged that beef prices are “extremely low” and that is down to market conditions, he said.
Brexit and the Mercosor deal have compounded matters. Additionally “government agencies talking about reducing the suckler head”, did not help. That is “another attack on the sector.”
The industry is being targeted and “brought to a halt.”
“We will have to trade through a very difficult trade environment. The fear and frustration of the producers is understandable, but closing down businesses is not going to help that.”
Mr Healy said that businesses need to be allowed “to get back up and functioning.”