Farmers in the Beef Plan Movement want the retailers to come to the table for talks with the farmers and factories.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at a Beef Plan Movement protest outside Musgraves on the Tramore Road in Cork city, Helen O'Sullivan said: “We’re here outside Musgraves because we feel the retailers have to answer as well because they’re actually getting 50% of the price we’re getting paid for our meat. The factories have always said that the retailers want the specs.

“We just want the retailers to clarify if that position - is this true and is it really needed? Because Lidl and Supermac’s have actually come out and say they don’t want the 30-month spec. So that’s great and I think if that can be raised to 36 months it would take a lot of pressure mentally and financially off the farmer.

There will be a huge knock-on effect if farmers go out of business and that includes the factory workers

“The farmers are losing their jobs and without farmers those people wouldn’t have their jobs as well. I think it’s very important that the farmers are looked after here. There will be a huge knock-on effect if farmers go out of business and that includes the factory workers.

“This is going to be a peaceful protest, we will let trucks in and out. We just want to make the retailers aware of what is going on. They are getting 50% of the cost of our meat,” she said.

Big player

O’Sullivan said that Musgraves would be one of the bigger distribution centres for retailers.

“It’s nearest to the people here in Cork and they play a big part in this. Again, we’ve asked the factories several times about the 30-month age limit, four movements and 70-day residency.

“The factories have said the retailers are looking for this so we want the retailers to come out now and clarify this for us,” she said.

Full-time farmers 'on their knees'

David Murphy, joint chair of Limerick Beef Plan, said that full-time farmers are on their knees and he is one of them.

“I farm 55 suckler cows on very marginal ground, long winters and very little out of it.

“The big thing coming down here today, between the retailers and the processors, I feel there is €1/kg there and that’s one of the main reasons I’m here today. The retailers and the processors have to come to the table.

“There is a lot of jobs involved in this industry and people are going to lose their jobs.

“I would appeal to the general public as well because it’s all feeding back into the economy. When the farmer is going bad everyone is going bad. All we want is the price of production plus a fair margin,” he said.

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