Farmers will have the final sign-off on an agreement reached between farm organisations and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) aimed at ending seven-week protests outside meat factories.

The agreement – reached after 32-hour talks – outlines increases to bonuses, an extension of age limits on cattle and the introduction of a beef task force.

However, farmers will have to agree to halt all protests outside factories immediately in order for the agreement to stand.

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Concern

Despite farm organisations encouraging members to accept the agreement, there has been an increasing murmur of dissent among farmers.

A number of them have taken to social media to vent their concerns, which include that factories may drop the base price to counter the bonus increasing on in-spec cattle.

There was also anger from some farmers that the issue of bull beef hadn’t been addressed after a particularly difficult year for finishers.

Beef Plan and Independent Farmers

The Beef Plan Movement, the original instigator behind protests, has remained positive regarding the outcome of talks.

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They’re urging farmers off the picket lines and informed them they can join their new producer group if they fear a drop in the base price.

All issues agreed are pluses

“Negotiations will take place at various picket lines throughout the country from this evening to talk to farmers about the agreement and its merits,” Beef Plan said.

“All issues agreed are pluses that were not available last month and farmers can certainly be proud of their stance to fight for their livelihoods.

“An additional top-up bonus of 8c/kg on top of the 12 cents/kg already existing is very welcome and also that 8c/kg is paid on cattle between 30 and 36 months.”

While the newest farm organisation, the Independent Farmers of Ireland group, initially expressed its support for the agreement and urged farmers to accept it, it has now taken a more cautious approach.

“The three spokespeople have the approval to negotiate but not the power to make the final decision as this is a democratic movement,” it said.

“Meetings are to take place to achieve a consensus and to determine what course of action shall be pursued.

“Once a conclusion is reached it will be communicated to all relevant parties. Hopefully this will clarify some of the confusion in the media at present.”

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