The Independent Farmers of Ireland has written the following letter to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.
“I am contacting you on behalf of the men and women who have taken part in the peaceful protests over the past number of days.
We would like to make it clear that there isn’t a single individual at these peaceful protests that wishes to be there; however, we feel we have no choice as our futures are at risk if the current beef crisis in this country is not addressed.
The beef industry in Ireland was worth €2.9 billion last year; however, farmers are expected to continue to work at a loss – this can carry on no longer.
As I stand here scripting this message, surrounded by a bunch of individuals, we are saddened. After all the back-breaking work we have done over the years to support this country, to feed its people, to follow the guidelines and rules set out by the EU and Department of Agriculture, which are forever getting more difficult for the farmer to abide by, I have never been as disappointed in the Government, or this country.
I assure you, in your entire life, you have not seen as many grown men breakdown from exhaustion, stress, worry, upset, heartbreak and fear, as I have seen in the past few days.
Do you realise that there are farmers throughout this country, not just at these peaceful protests, who cannot feed their family, who cannot afford to send their children to college, who are about to lose their home, farms, and their livelihood?
As you well know, there are farmers who have taken their own lives and many more at breaking point due to the pressures of not being able to make a sustainable living and being unable to support their families financially. These same men and women have had to take on a second job in order to cover the losses of beef farming in its current state. These people work 80-100 hours a week, depending on the time of year and yet some of the lowest-paid people in the country.
Producers for the beef industry cannot break-even, let alone make a profit.
How is rural Ireland supposed to have a future? Who are going to be the caretakers of our land? Rural Ireland will cease to exist for good. Ireland was always made up of sustainable family farms, but it would seem now that we are unwanted, that feedlots and Brazilian beef are the way forward.
It has become clear to those at the peaceful protests over the past few days that you do not believe we have a voice, but it is time for this to change.
You have stated on numerous occasions that you cannot enter talks with farmers as there is no one to talk to, however three people have been democratically elected to act as spokespersons on behalf of all beef farmers who seek change.
There is now someone for you to talk to. However, I feel it important to state that these brave people who stood up and accepted the job, in order to attempt to bring a resolution, feel it would be foolish and unwise to do so without first being offered full immunity from all or any legal proceedings.
Due to the heavy-handed and unreasonable tactics used by the factories, the farmers around the country fear injunctions, they fear their farms being taken from them, they fear being held liable for cost and they fear jail time. However, these 3 elected spokespeople are available for talks, should you invite them.
By granting them immunity and inviting them to talk, we can work towards finding a resolution not only for farmers but also for the future of rural Ireland.
Is it so unjust that farmers ask to be sustainable? That they ask for a future? To make a living or be able to financially support their families?
The men and women at the peaceful protests are unsure where to go next, but we ask you to please help to ensure all legal action is dropped against all farmers and allow us to work together to prevent the demise of sustainable family farms throughout Ireland.
Allow us a voice without us having to fear paying millions worth of debt just for expressing ourselves.
Protect the farmers that try their best to produce the beef that is so valuable to this country through export.
We run an eco-friendly grass-fed system with one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally. In a world where global warming is a growing concern, the farmers of Ireland are trying their very best to abide by rules, follow guidelines and farm the way the Department of Agriculture and the EU require. Surely this is what we want to hold onto in this country.
Support sustainable Irish family farms NOT factory farms!”