The beef sector has now passed the point of severe long-term damage to the sector, according to Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the body representing the factories.
Buyers of Irish beef have made decisions on supply for the next two to four weeks, it said on Friday evening.
“They have been forced to exclude Irish beef from their plans for several weeks ahead and instead have sourced beef from alternative suppliers across Europe and beyond.
“Over the last number of weeks, genuine farmers have missed out on the sale of cattle for processing worth €120m.
"This week is likely to see a further 30,000 cattle unprocessed, leading to a backlog at this stage of over 100,000 animals that simply will not be cleared before the end of the year.
“How much longer is the State willing to allow a small number of protesters to illegally blockade facilities, endangering the livelihoods of 80,000 farmers and the jobs of 10,000 employees in beef processing?” a spokesperson for MII said.
A full working week has now passed since the Irish beef sector agreement was reached on 15 September.
“Despite this, illegal blockades continue today at 18 beef processing sites across the country," according to MII.
"This involves ongoing intimidation, blackmail and threats to staff, contractors, hauliers and farmer suppliers.
“Calls by the President, An Taoiseach and several Government ministers for these illegal blockades to cease and the agreement to be given a chance are being ignored.
“The illegal action of a small minority is negatively impacting the livelihoods of thousands of workers, farmers with cattle to sell, hauliers and other service providers, and is putting the entire Irish beef sector in jeopardy.
“There is an ongoing blatant disregard for the authority of the State and the law of the land by those involved, which includes non-farming and sinister elements.
"The notion of protesters voting whether to continue or not with their illegal action is absurd,” the spokesperson said.
Independent Farmers of Ireland
The Independent Farmers of Ireland also issued a statement on Friday evening in relation to the ongoing protests at factory gates and questioned if the deal agreed should be put in jeopardy.
“As everyone is aware, the stipulation put forward in last Sunday’s meeting was that the proposed agreement would not be ratified until the peaceful protesters left the factory gates.
“All farm organisations, including the Independent Farmers of Ireland, were encouraged to explain this proposal in detail to ensure its uptake.
“As of today, six factories no longer hold an effective protest.
"Numerous others are holding meetings or internal discussions over the next 24 hours on how to proceed,” a spokesperson for the group said.
"However, the urgency in this situation is that this proposal is not indefinite, decisions must be made whether to accept what we have achieved and build on it, or let it fall by the wayside," the spokesperson warned.
“If we accept the deal, protests will simply be withdrawn, and we can monitor the situation as it unfolds over the coming months.
“Democracy must rule in this situation and the view of the majority must be respected, as mutual regard is what has gotten us this far.”
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