Irish farmers stage protest

Irish farmers have staged protests outside Irish beef plants, claiming that processors are trying to undermine confidence by cutting carcase prices.

The Irish Farmers Association held protests outside the AIBP beef plant in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Kepak in Athleague, Co Roscommon and the Dawn Meats Group plant in Granagh, Co Waterford.

Speaking at the protest outside the AIBP plant, IFA president Padraig Walshe said there was deep anger among beef producers at the way the factories had "cut prices and used negative propaganda to destroy confidence among winter finishers and erode their incomes".

He said the price cuts over the last four weeks amount to over €80 per head, with current low prices of €3.02/kg meaning that producers are losing €200 per head, and warned that "this tactic by the factories will bankrupt winter finishers this spring".

He accused the processors of using their cattle agents to spread as much bad news as possible and inflict maximum damage on cattle prices.

IFA livestock chairman Michael Doran said the price cuts would have "very damaging implications" for the Irish beef sector. "Price cuts which will wipe out profitability for winter finishers will drive the beef sector back into a major seasonality problem, and completely undermine our ability to supply year-round retail markets in the UK and across Europe," he said.

Doran added that price cuts cannot be justified when cattle supplies are well below 30,000 head per week, UK prices have moved up to €3.43/kg, EU prices are ranging from €3.50-€4, Brazilian imports remain restricted and there is a major beef deficit across Europe.

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