More than 30 Munster IFA livestock farmers staged a tractor protest outside the Aldi supermarket in Mitchelstown, County Cork earlier this Monday.
At the protest, IFA president, Eddie Downey said livestock farmers are stepping up their campaign against the price and specification cuts imposed by retailers and factories. He said farmers feel betrayed by the unacceptable behaviour and lack of corporate responsibility on the part of the powerful retailers and meat factories to their farmer suppliers.
Mr Downey warned all of the major retailers, including SuperValu, Dunnes, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl, and the factories that the anger and frustration of farmers is at boiling point and the unjustified price and specification cuts, which are severely damaging farmers and the Irish beef sector, must be reversed.
“With beef prices in our main markets in the UK and across the EU stable and recovering, the current attack on prices led by the factories cannot be justified,” he said.
The president pointed out that Munster is a key area for beef production in Ireland. Over 42% of all the cattle in the country are in Munster, while nine of the major meat factories are located in the region.
The IFA leader said Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney outlined that he will get directly involved and will play a central role in discussions between factories and farmers to resolve the current problems.
“The Minister said he expects the processing industry to respond positively to the key issues around the Quality Payment System and specifications to suit the Irish beef sector,” he said.
Mr Downey said the Minister Coveney must assert his authority with the factories and demand that they respect the agreement they entered into with farmers on the price grid under the Quality Payment System. He said the Minister must insist that the factories remove the unfair specifications cuts on dual pricing, weights, age and breeds that were never part of the QPS.