Tensions at meat factory gates are starting to heat up as the Beef Plan Movement continues into the fifth day of protests today.
One farmer has been taken to hospital after he was allegedly hit by an SUV as farmers protested outside a meat factory in Bandon, Co Cork.
The Beef Plan Movement is scaling up its demonstrations outside six meat plants around the country amid a deepening crisis in the beef sector.
Farmers are taking a hit of €4m a week with beef prices down approximately €150 per head on last year, and the Beef Plan Movement is calling for a greater return for farmers of the retail price and a meeting with processors.
However, meat factories have warned beef prices could fall further.
Meat Industry Ireland, which represents the processors, warned that UK retailers are increasingly unwilling to confirm their beef needs for the autumn as the uncertainty over Brexit continues to weigh heavily on the market.
“I don’t deny the fact that farmers are under significant pressure and the price paid today is reflective of the market, and disrupting normal processing activity is not going to help,” said a spokesman.
According to the Beef Plan Movement, its protests are peaceful and participants are not stopping produce from going into factories.
However, they are asking farmers to think twice before they take cattle to the factory.
The group’s chairman Hugh Doyle said they will continue to protest for as long as it takes to achieve their aims.
“We will scale it up as the week goes on and if there is no engagement from the factories then we stay there,” he said.
“We are trying to raise awareness that the industry as we know it is broken and we have to all sit around a table and find a way to fix it. We have to start realising that the way we sell our product is not working.”
At the ABP Food Group factory in Waterford, the protesters explained to drivers that they would not physically stop them entering the factory, but said it would be a poor reflection on those who did.
The group has posted videos of people passing their pickets on social media, naming the individuals, including farmers, vets and hauliers.
Two weeks after the Beef Plan’s protest outside Leinster House, it said there has been “no correspondence” from Agriculture Minister Michael Creed or his department.
Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers’ Association has protested outside the EU Food and Veterinary offices in Co Meath, calling for a stop to the “beef import scandal which is damaging EU beef prices”.