MII says work is needed to win back export markets

The organisation representing meat processors has confirmed that its members will drop legal threats against beef farmers after months of factory protests came to an end on Sunday.

MII says work is needed to win back export markets

The organisation representing meat processors has confirmed that its members will drop legal threats against beef farmers after months of factory protests came to an end on Sunday.

However, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned that both the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia will need to engage in additional promotional work to win back export markets that were lost after beef production ground to a halt during the demonstrations.

MII also said that some factories have struggled to re-hire the staff they temporarily laid off during the impasse over the price paid to farmers for cattle.

Some processors had issued legal letters to protesters over the demonstrations, and had threatened to hold Hugh Doyle, chairman of the Beef Plan Movement “personally liable for damages arising from the losses suffered”.

However a spokesperson for MII has confirmed that these legal proceedings have been dropped after the last of the protests stood down on Sunday night.

“As per the provisions outlined in the Irish Beef Sector Agreement – 15 September 2019, the Agreement enters into force following the cessation of all protests and blockades."

The Agreement indicates that: “Blockades and protests will be removed immediately and all parties to this agreement will ensure that this happens.

Thereafter, beef processors undertake that all legal proceedings against farm organisations and/or individual farmers will be withdrawn in relation to this matter. This will be followed up by the individual companies that have the legal actions.

MII said beef processing resumed on Monday and will be fully operational later this week.

MII said: “Beef processors are contacting employees who were regrettably laid-off over recent weeks to inform them that they will be recommencing processing this week.

"Unfortunately, members are stating that some personnel will not be returning to work in the beef sector as they have gained employment in other sectors."

The organisation estimates that there is a backlog of over 100,000 cattle that would have been normally processed due to the disruption.

“Beef processors are also engaging with their customer base after this damaging period to seek to rebuild business over the period ahead.

"This will take some time as many customers have made their purchasing plans without Irish beef and committed to supply arrangements with alternative suppliers for at least the next number of weeks.

"There will be a need for additional marketing and promotional activity to support Irish beef in the period ahead and MII will discuss this with the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia."

Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) says it has secured a commitment from retailer Aldi that it will cooperate with the Beef Market Task Force, established following the agreement between farmers and processors.

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