Disputing farmers and meat processors will be hoping that today’s Beef Forum will deliver some progress in their long-running stalemate on beef prices and factory kill specifications.
Hosted by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, the talks begin with relations at a low ebb between processors and producers. Farmers arrive on foot of a 48-hour IFA-led blockade of 14 key meat factories.
Meat Industry Ireland, the Ibec group which represents leading meat factories in Ireland, says it had considered taking legal action to prevent a second series of blockades. It estimated that the IFA’s recent 24-hour protest had cost them €10m-€15m.
Mr Coveney has urged all sides to make progress on the issues under discussion. He said all sides need a beef market with stability and certainty.
IFA president Eddie Downey said the steel and resolve of farmers across the country is very strong and they are determined that the factories must respond on prices to reflect the increase in returns from our main export market in the UK. He said the IFA’s national livestock committee and executive council will meet following the outcome of today’s Beef Forum meeting to decide the next steps in its campaign.
Mr Downey said IFA expects Mr Coveney to strongly support its campaign and insist that the improved UK market returns are reflected in better prices to farmers. He said the €350 per head price gap between Ireland and the UK must be addressed. He added that farmers are demanding that there must be a bonus payment for all quality-assured animals and more progress made on the “unscientific” 30-month age limit.
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