Clare farmers who have returned to a picket outside the Kepak meat plant in Drumquin say they’ve nothing left to lose, and will continue to demonstrate until the price of beef increases.
The unofficial protest is one of a number taking place at meat processing plants nationwide, in spite of an agreement being struck in talks last week.
Farmers are back out in force at a growing number of meat factories across the country this week, following what they see as the unsuccessful conclusion of beef talks.
Meat Industry Ireland, the main farming organisations and the Agriculture Minister made progress on some issues during two rounds of negotiations but the price of beef wasn’t up for discussion.
This has angered farmers, who say it’s their main concern, and led to unofficial protests resuming at Kepak at Drumquin, as well as factories in Wexford, Cavan, Waterford and Tipperary.
A small number of farmers were braving the rain in Drumquin this morning, with numbers well down on that seen before the talks began.
One of those there today, Doolin farmer Jim McDonagh says they’re at breaking point.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has said this morning that he’s open to facilitating more talks but has also reiterated that he “cannot intervene” in dialogue on beef prices.
But the IFA says unless that issue is on the cards, efforts to reconvene talks would be a waste of time.
The organisation’s president Joe Healy says farmers simply can’t continue to operate if they earn so little:
Despite the mixed messages on future talks, a former government minister is calling on both sides to come together once again.
Independent TD and former Environment Minister Denis Naughten says the only way progress of any kind will be made is by engaging with one another.