Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that he shares the sense of frustration and disappointment being felt by many members of the Beef Plan Movement following the conclusion of talks aimed at achieving fair pricing structures. Deputy McGrath was speaking after Beef Plan spokespeople accepted that the negotiations had failed to deliver on key areas of concern for many ordinary farmers:
“The general sense among many farmers, especially those who protested, is that this entire process was less a negotiation and more of a PR hostage taking.
The Meat Industry has been allowed to leave the talks with its complete dominance of the process intact while the farmer on the ground has achieved some nominal agreements around a Teagasc review of the price differentials on the grid system and commitments to allow extra cattle to qualify for payments.
I want to say that I also share the real anger of those farmers who were threatened with litigation prior to the talks and who still have that level of coercion hanging over them and their families. Those threats must be immediately dismissed.
Minister Creed is now saying that there will be an “expert report” published on new technology for beef carcass classification, with additional promises of promotional initiatives for the beef sector and market transparency plans.
Surely that was part of his remit before the protests and surely those kinds of initiatives should have been happening anyway? Why did farmers have to organise a nationwide protest before the Minister conceded on the issue of market transparency?
He cannot now present those things to us as if they were hard won gains from the negotiations when they are the minimum that any farmer should expect from the government and an honest and fair meat industry,” concluded Deputy McGrath.