Amid the growing levels of frustration and anger among farmers, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has called for the crunch beef talks to be restart.
As reports emerge of farmers returning to some picket lines outside factory gates around the country, the rural representative called on the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to reconvene the talks.
He also requested that the members of the Agriculture Committee meet as soon as possible and invite representatives from all the major retailers to appear before them.
Fitzmaurice said: “It was made clear that beef prices could not be discussed directly during the recent crunch talks between stakeholders.
“However, I believe that the Agriculture Committee has a role to play in this regard and that its members can ask retailers the tough questions – which would bring some transparency to the supply chain.
“This meeting needs to be arranged as quickly as possible and I have asked all the committee members to support my request,” he said.
It is imperative that Minister Creed recognises the seriousness of this situation, according to the Roscommon-Galway TD.
Continuing, he added: “We are rapidly moving in a direction where farmers could return to picket lines outside factory gates countrywide without the leadership of any farm organisation.
“If farmers do not see some meaningful progress today, it will become increasingly difficult to convince them to suspend a second protest for talks to continue.
“Talks need to be resumed and the retailers need to be brought in this time around. They have escaped lightly to date and some major Irish retailers – including Dunnes, Tesco and the Musgraves group – have failed to meaningful engage with queries put to them since the previous protest was suspended to proceed with talks.
“Farmers need to see that their public representatives are pushing for resolutions which will ensure they receive a sustainable price for their produce,” he said.
Threat of legal action
Meanwhile, the independent TD has also called for Meat Industry Ireland (MII) to withdraw the threat of legal action hanging over some farmers’ heads since the previous crunch talks began.
“It would be prudent for MII to withdraw the legal action it initiated towards the latter end of the recent protest led by the Beef Plan group.
“The fact that the threat of legal action is being held over some farmers’ heads has disgusted and appalled the farming community.
“Whether it likes it or not, MII cannot ignore this situation. It must be prepared to budge on some of the key issues which farmers feel are restricting them in receiving a fair price.
“MII must be prepared to engage with the farm organisations in order to find a satisfactory solution which would bring some stability back to the industry.
“But time is of the essence, and the resumption of talks must be initiated today,” Fitzmaurice concluded.
Michael Fitzmaurice TD – 086-1914565