The Agriculture Minister is calling for meat-plant owners to withdraw their threat of legal action against beef protesters.
Michael Creed is also calling on protester organisers to return to talks.
Farmers are picketing outside meat factories for a 12th day in a row today – angry at the prices they are getting for their animals.
The Beef Plan Movement, which is behind the action, is calling for a ‘readjustment’ of the industry model, warning that the prices farmers are offered do not reflect the importance of their place on the production line.
Meat factories have temporarily laid off several hundred staff while the protests continue and umbrella body Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has threatened legal action in response.
Farmers must get a fair price for their product!! pic.twitter.com/5YGxzqJ3nL
— Michael Moynihan TD (@mmoynihantd) August 8, 2019
Minister Creed said its time for both sides to get around the negotiating table.
“What is really important is that we move from protest to engagement between all parties,” he said.
“Where I would ask the Beef Plan to suspend their picket lines, I would also ask Meat Industry Ireland to suspend their legal action so that both parties are making concessions to get us to a roundtable situation.
“We need to do that sooner rather than later. We don’t need to lose any momentum here.”
Beef barons prosper and family farms suffer. Government must talk to protesting farmers - no preconditions. They were angry & determined this evening in Balleyjamesduff Co Cavan @Beefplan @MichaelCreedTD pic.twitter.com/37Hzqds2FZ
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) August 8, 2019
He said the issue can only be resolved if both sides are willing to “take steps to build confidence.”
“The issue is too big,” he said. “There are too many livelihoods at stake.”
“Farmers have made their point in terms of picketing outside factories. That is not their normal habitat or where they want to be.”
I am furious at the threat of court action by Meat Industry Ireland (MII) against farmers engaged in the current beef protests. Rather than addressing the legitimate issues, particularly price, which is at the core of the protest, MII have resorted to scare tactics. #beefcrisis
— Tim Cullinan (@TimCullinan_IFA) August 8, 2019
MII has said the protests have led to the closure of 14 processing plants around the country with many other operating well below capacity.
The body said businesses have been “left with no choice” but to seek legal action.
The IFA President Joe Healy said the legal threat was “heavy-handed, ill-advised and counterproductive in terms of finding a solution.”
“The current dispute is a product of the desperation farmers find themselves in,” he said.
“The reality is that if we don’t improve the situation of farmers, we won’t have any beef sector at all as farmers will go out of business.”
He called on MII to “set aside any preconditions” and enter talks.
He said Minister Creed should convene the talks today and make it clear that he expects the body to attend.