The Independent Farmers of Ireland has said that if talks to resolve the current beef crisis dispute had occurred on Monday, “the feeling was that we would have returned to normal processing activities either today (Wednesday, September 11th) or tomorrow (Thursday, September 12th)”.
Reacting to the news that 3,000 factory workers have been temporarily laid off, the group stated that “Irish beef farmers would never wish to deprive these hard-working people of employment.”
“In fact, we find it astonishing and totally unacceptable that Meat Industry Ireland hold the independent farmers at factory gates responsible for these redundancies as it was Meat Industry Ireland who walked away from the talks in Backweston on Monday.”
“The meat processors involved seem to be using their employees as innocent pawns in the negotiations.”
‘Beef farmers facing redundancy’
The group outlined that the multinationals involved recorded “very significant profits in the past 12 months and it seems most unfair and downright cynical to treat their loyal workers in such a fashion”.
Independent Farmers of Ireland said that if members of Meat Industry Ireland are in “any way concerned about their employees and the continued prosperity of the Irish beef processing industry, would a return to round table discussions not prove a faster solution?”
“Beef farmers throughout Ireland are also facing redundancy - their industry is in crisis. They are not returning the cost of production for their premium product, let alone a margin to support their families and they will receive no redundancy payments.”
“These beef producers are taking part in the peaceful protest in desperation as they see their futures and that of rural Ireland disappearing.”
“Just like the factory employees, beef producers just want a fair wage for a fair day’s work.”
‘Must work together’
The group believes that farmers and MII must work together in order to provide a better future for everyone involved in the beef supply chain “if it is to survive the many challenges it faces into the future”.
“The companies and individuals that control this industry make a lot of money off each animal that they slaughter each year. This cannot be said about the farmer that bred, reared and fed that animal, nor can it be said about the worker who processed it!”
“This current peaceful protest started because farmers wished for an equitable percentage of the entire value of the animal presented for slaughter.”
“It seems; however, that fair distribution of profit is unlikely to occur in this industry under the current structures.” the group added.
‘Ready to return to the table’
The group is calling for new structures to be created in the Irish beef industry, adding that transparency about all elements from farm to fork is needed.
“All of the farming organisations are ready to return to the table immediately and the government is making huge efforts to facilitate these talks, so realistically Meat Industry Ireland is the only one prolonging this process. The tail must stop wagging the dog!” the statement concluded.