A small portion of the farmers protesting at Edgeworthstown
“We don’t want to be here in Edgeworthstown...But we are forced to be here." says Longford farmer.
Farmers from throughout the country have been engaged in peaceful protests outside meat factories and processing facilities for the past number of weeks, in a battle for better prices for the animals they produce.
Late last week, Longford farmers took the protests to Kepak in Ballymahon and these protests continue this morning. However, there have been further developments over the weekend, as farmers are now hosting a peaceful protest outside Pet food producers C&D Foods in Edgeworthstown.
Local councillor and farmer, Paraic Brady, who has consistently featured on the picket lines in Ballyjamesduff, confirmed to the Leader that they had moved protests to C&D Foods due to the company’s links with ABP. Farmers at the picket lines in Edgeworthstown say they are hopeful of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in terms of beef crisis talks due to take place in Dublin between major stakeholders within the industry, from 11am today.
Cllr Brady said: “We are hoping that the talks in Dublin, which are taking place at 11am, will throw more light on the subject for everybody.
“We don’t want to be here in Edgeworthstown...But we are forced to be here.
“We are hoping after talks the message will come back to lift some of the pickets around Ireland,"
Cllr Brady warned those sitting in on talks today that this issue is not going to go away, while he and other farmers vowed to continue the fight.
“I would urge the people sitting at these talks to please take the people seriously. This isn’t going away, the people aren’t going away and the farmers are not going away.” He said.
“There has been enough lost on everybody’s side at this stage.
“Just give the farmers a fair price. We are not asking for something ridiculous, we are just asking for a fair price.”
Cllr Brady says retailers also need to also sit down at the table for talks and protesters in Edgeworthstown say they hope they don’t have to go down the route of picketing retail establishments.
“We don’t want to have to step it up another gear or two.” He warned.
“If talks go well today, we will be moving this peaceful picket to some of the other factories.”
Cllr Brady says if a resolution is not found, he would be fearful for the biggest event in the agricultural calendar, the National Ploughing championships.
“I would be fearful for the Ploughing championships going forward if these talks don’t take place and take place with a satisfactory outcome.
“It is the biggest day in the farming calendar and I wouldn’t like to see it spoiled because of the failure of talks.” He added.
In light of the continued protests over the weekend, Meat Industry Ireland (MII)have today communicated that they have adjourned its participation in the talks until all illegal blockades are lifted.
In a statement, MII expressed frustration at the refusal of protesters to respond to the Minister’s call to step back from blockading and to observe the norms that apply in talks aimed at resolving disputes. This news was criticised by the ICSA president, Edmond Phelan, who has called on Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to reconsider its kneejerk decision to adjourn their participation in the beef crisis talks.
He stated: “There is still time between now and 7pm this evening for a change of stance on this, otherwise they are simply pressing the self-destruct button on the beef industry here.
“The onus is on the processors now; it is up to them to come to the talks and to bring real offers to the table. Current beef prices mean that every system of beef farming is losing money. The meat industry can no longer ignore the reality that beef farmers have to make a living, because without them making a living, there will be no future for their business either.”
“Farmers cannot survive at current prices which are way below the cost of production. ICSA is adamant that each and every mechanism through which a sustainable beef price can be achieved must be explored. Cracks are beginning to show in the 30 month rule and equally the 70 day rule is becoming more and more difficult to justify.
“I would urge MII to get to table and engage meaningfully with us on these important issues.” he concluded.