Over 300 farmers are waiting to sell 10,000 cattle to Meadow Meats in Co Laois, but cannot be accommodated as a result of a protest which continues to take place at the factory, a statement from Meadow Meats said on Monday night.
A spokesperson for the Dawn Meats-owned company said: “The blockaders want higher cattle prices, but by their illegal actions they are damaging future prospects for Irish beef.
“Customers who we are unable to supply will take their business elsewhere and the protesters’ actions may well result in lower prices to the genuine farmers who are not involved in this illegal behaviour.
“The current situation is unsustainable and we cannot rule out having to close the business, meaning Laois’s only beef factory would not be available to service the local farmer community.”
Meadow Meats claims that none of the protesters are suppliers of cattle to the factory.
The company said that the “illegal blockade is in breach of a permanent court order” and said it shows contempt for the deal agreed over the weekend between seven farmer representative groups, the Department of Agriculture and the beef processors.
Meadow Meats claims there have been many instances of intimidation, verbal and physical abuse displayed over this dispute, with the statement adding that “protests took a sinister turn last week when protesters put on masks to avoid being identified”.
The staff who work at the factory were temporarily laid off last week, but the factory warned this action will become permanent if the plant’s owners decide “that ongoing intimidation and illegal blockades have called the long-term viability of the business into question”.
This would mean the closure of Co Laois’s only processor, limiting the options for local farmers as to where they sell their cattle, it said.