All farming organisations need to come together to do what they can to get higher beef prices for farmers, the Chairman of the Co. Donegal Executive of the Irish Farmers’ Association has declared.
Brendan McLaughlin’s comments come following weeks of protests outside beef factories by farmers who say they can no longer accept being paid less than the cost of production.
“We have to show strength together as one group,” he said.
The protests at a number of beef factories were organised by the Beef Plan movement.
Its actions have received the backing of many farmers who are also members of farming organisations, including the IFA, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) and Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association.
A united approach is also favoured by Mona O'Donoghue-Concannon, ICSA Vice President for Connacht/Ulster, who said that her farm organisation would “work with Beef Plan and anyone else to try and push any ideas forward.”
And she added: “This is serious, farm families are being hit and cannot afford the cost of sending children back to school or college. Farmers must stand together on beef prices, Mercosur and Brexit."
They were speaking at a public meeting last Thursday on the Mercosur trade deal in Letterkenny’s Clanree Hotel that was organised by Sinn Féin.
If the deal goes through 100,000 additional tonnes of beef could come into the EU from South American countries, on top of the 270,000 tonnes already permitted.
Meanwhile, Henry O’Donnell, Donegal Irish Natura & Hill Farmers' Association representative, said that he was “extremely worried” about the present plight of beef farmers.
But in a reference to the recent protests outside meat factories, he added that it was “great to see farmers standing up and being counted.”
Eimear McGuinness, Donegal Town Mart Manager and PRO of the Donegal Beef Plan Movement, said that “not enough support has been given by farmers by government.”
Expressing dissatisfaction with the talks that followed the recent protests outside factories, she said: “We came out the other end and got nothing.”
And she added: “We do not know where we will end up but we will not go down without a fight."
Noting the various difficulties that marts have endured in recent times - not least with insurance issues - she stressed that “we need marts “ pointing out that “they create revenue in towns and villages. Marts create competitiveness, and competition for every animal."
On Mercusor, she said: “What they are pushing on this country is disgraceful. We have to stop this.”
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