Earlier this week, processor trade body Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said that 3,000 employees of its members have been temporarily laid off due to the “continuing illegal blockades of factories and intimidation of staff and suppliers by protestors”.
In a statement, it claimed: “Decisions to cease processing operations have not been taken lightly but in the face of the unwillingness of protestors to stop their illegal blockades, companies were forced to act. Some 80% of overall processing capacity has now closed, and further closures and layoffs are likely in coming days.
“It is not just the direct employees that will be affected by the ongoing crisis, hundreds of indirect jobs will be impacted as ancillary businesses including hauliers will be heavily impacted by these closures.”
This comes as Irish Farmers Association president Joe Healy called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed to tell the meat companies to “stop posturing and come forward with proposals to resolve the current impasse in the beef sector”.
“The time for persuasion is over,” said Healy. “This is an unprecedented crisis and it cannot go on any longer. The meat factories need to come to the table immediately.
“MII’s pontificating about normal negotiation protocols will get us nowhere. This is not a typical dispute. The Minister needs to get tough with MII and the beef barons. The Minister also needs to come with proposals himself. We need a full statutory investigation into the sector, further Brexit funding and a clear plan should we end up with a hard Brexit.”
In an effort to help progress the situation, the Minister announced the recognition of the first Producer Organisation under national legislation providing for the establishment of recognised producer organisations in the beef sector.
Glasson Beef Producers, trading as ‘Irish Beef Producers’ received formal notification of the acceptance of its application for recognition on the register of Beef Producer Organisations, enabling it to negotiate prices with processors.
The Minister said: “I am very pleased to announce recognition, for the first time, of a beef producer organisation in Ireland, as I firmly believe that producer organisations are an important part of the tool kit in building resilience in the sector by strengthening the position of the primary producer in the supply chain.”