Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has warned that there is a tipping point at which the beef crisis could cause long term damage to the beef industry.
“We need to pull all the threads together,” he told RTÉ radio’sshow.
Mr Creed said he hopes that talks can resume later today, but he could not say definitively and he did not underestimate the size of the challenge.
The issue is not just about price, he added. “There is a deep sense of frustration. Farmers are feeling mistreated that they are not being given the full picture by the meat industry.
I understand the frustration brought on by lack of income. They feel that they haven’t been taken on board as equal partners in the industry.
The Minister called for structures to be put in place in the industry. If the industry is to prosper then farmers need to be recognised as equal partners in the industry.
“This will require movement on both sides to get there. I want to get to a situation where farm leaders can go to the picket lines and look at the individuals and say ‘now we have a basis to proceed’ with these negotiations.”
“There is a danger of getting to a tipping point that will lead to significant losses to both sides.”
However, Mr Creed said that the Government is not in a position to give contractual security to farmers.
The State doesn’t buy beef and can’t tell what to pay for beef.
No side can afford to not give an inch, he added. The best chance to get back to work is through talks, but this is difficult because of picket lines, court cases and “people acting unilaterally”.
The Minister said he agreed that there should be engagement with retailers and he hoped to make progress in that area.