Concerns have been raised that meat factories are possibly blacklisting farmers who took part in protests over the last number of weeks, according to Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) sheep chair Seán McNamara.

“It has come to our attention that many farmers feel they are being treated less favourably by several meat processors as a direct result of their having participated in the protests," he said. Some say they are even being turned away, he said.

'Break down'

“If talks break down today [Tuesday], farmers will go out as individuals to protest and all factories will be closed, both sheep and beef,” he said. He said factories are “pulling prices” on sheep and are “playing with farmers”.

Punishing farmers who engaged in peaceful protest in this way is unacceptable

“It must be remembered that farmers had no choice but to take to those factory gates in order to be heard and get the opportunity to effect badly needed change.

"Matters had reached a tipping point and all those who took their grievances to the factory gates must be commended and talks are now on-going.

"Punishing farmers who engaged in peaceful protest in this way is unacceptable," McNamara said, adding it is simply an underhanded tactic to deter farmers from returning to the factory gates should the need arise.

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