Minister for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, TD, believes that it is in the interests of everyone involved in the beef industry that the work of the taskforce goes ahead.
He reiterated that the beef market taskforce was established to provide the leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability.
The intention, he added, was that the taskforce should provide a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement.
“I urge all parties to make every effort to ensure that this important work can commence,” Doyle said.
“Members of the taskforce were prevented from attending the meeting and were subject to physical violence and intimidation.”
“Members of staff of my Department were also subjected to abusive and threatening behaviour.”
He said that the independent chair and his Department officials are continuing to consult stakeholders with a view to progressing “key” elements of the agreement.
When asked by Michael Fitzmaurice and Anne Rabbitte when the next taskforce meeting would take place, Doyle said: “I cannot indicate a date at this point. I wish I could.”
“The issue of injunctions could have been dealt with at the meeting in Agriculture House had members of the taskforce been allowed in.”
“Rather than preventing them from entering the building, the protestors should have allowed them to be confronted on that issue under the structure of the taskforce.”
“The issue could, perhaps, have been dealt with as a preliminary to the meeting,” Doyle added.
“I appeal to everybody, including those who feel aggrieved at the way they were treated on Monday last in not being allowed to attend the meeting and those who prevented them from doing so, to let this taskforce set about its work.
“Let the taskforce get up and running. It is the interests of those of us who are committed to the beef sector to seek progress on all fronts.”
The taskforce's remit, he noted, is to monitor the implementation of the actions arising from the agreement reached on September 15th.
“Beef producers will benefit from an immediate increase in a range of bonuses.”
“The cumulative effect is that more than 70% of all steer and heifers slaughtered will now be eligible for a bonus on top of the basic price.”
“The Department is also proactively engaging with several potential beef producer organisations which have the potential to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain.”
Anne Rabbitte TD, said, “We all acknowledge the pressure on family farms. The formation of the new beef taskforce was one of the nuggets of the agreement secured on 15 September which encouraged people to step away from the picket lines.”
“We need a date for when it will reconvene. We all agree that there are many questions to be answered and much work to be done.”
“What happened last Monday was regrettable on all sides. Nobody could condone it. It could have been avoided but it was not.” she concluded.