Representatives from farm organisations, Meat Industry Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and its agencies will meet at 2pm this afternoon to discuss issues in the beef sector.
The talks – which will be chaired by Michael Dowling, the former secretary-general of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – will take place in the DAFM offices in Backweston campus Co. Kildare.
Beef Plan Movement
In a statement to its members ahead of the meeting, the Beef Plan Movement said: “The introduction of these legal proceedings has forced us into a position where we have no option but to agree to suspend our protests with immediate effect until talks conclude.”
“If we are not satisfied that sufficient progress is being made, we will leave the talks and resume our protests with immediate effect on Monday night.”
ICSA president Edmond Phelan has slammed the CCPC (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission) for threatening legal action against the Beef Plan Movement in advance of talks to resolve the beef dispute.
“The CCPC has some brass neck to go terrorising a group of farmers after giving the green light to the ABP group to further consolidate their dominant position by taking over the Slaney Group in 2016."
"It is time for an Oireachtas investigation into the CCPC to enquire why they are threatening powerless farmers whose position - year after year – has continuously worsened to its current desperate state."
"Their suggestion that protesting farmers could have 'a serious effect on Irish consumers' is farcical in the extreme. On the contrary, farmers are saying that the food chain is rigged to manipulate profits for processors and retailers while farmers go bankrupt."
IFA President Joe Healy said: “While the factories are the main problem, the retailer has a dominant role in the dysfunctional food chain that is not working for beef farmers."
"They need to be around the table to account for their actions and to outline how they intend to address the problem”.
Joe Healy stressed the EU Commission needs to be represented to explain "why they are allowing the EU beef market to be totally undermined with imports which fail to meet EU standards and also to outline their plans and supports for the Irish and EU beef sector in Brexit".
The IFA President said the letter sent by Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to farmers involved in the Beef Plan Movement shows that the current rules and enforcement structure in the area is "a complete joke."
“They need to be replaced with a new regulator who acts for all parties in the chain,” he said.
“If anyone needs to be investigated, it is the meat factories. The Competition Authority has previously raided the IFA offices and threatened us and other farmers on numerous occasions. The CCPC is not fit for purpose from a farmer’s point of view,” he said.
“New EU legislation on the Agri Markets Task Force needs to be implemented here. It will require a new state agency with robust oversight and resources to enforce it."