Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has met with farmers who have been protesting outside the gates of ABP in Bandon, Co Cork.
The meeting took place in the Minister’s constituency office in Macroom.
On Friday, the Minister had contacted all farm organisations to ask them to return for further roundtable talks on the beef crisis. However he also highlighted that farmers protesting at factories currently are not represented by any farm organisation.
This prompted farmer protesters outside ABP Bandon to conduct a Whatsapp poll, which resulted in the decision to nominate the Beef Plan Movement as the farm organisation to represent them in talks at the Minister’s office in nearby Macroom.
Beef Plan spokespeople, accompanied by a number of farmers who had been protesting in Bandon, met with Minister Creed to discuss the current difficulties.
The Irish Farmers Journal was told that the “Minister acknowledged their concerns and gave a commitment to follow through on these difficulties and further explained the content of the recent beef round agreement, which did indeed address many of the concerns”.
The farmers told the Minister that the issue of price is not going away.
Minister Creed is understood to have confirmed that he cannot discuss price but would endeavour to assist with any mechanism or organisation which could be in a position to discuss price.
During the meeting, Minister Creed is understood to have highlighted the significant need to allow the visiting Chinese delegation entry to ABP Bandon, given the huge opportunity for export of Irish beef.
The individual farmer protesters agreed that the Chinese delegation were an important group.
They explained that an agreement had been reached with factory management on Friday evening about access to the plant for Chinese.
However different groups of protesters had arrived at the factory entrance during Saturday morning and had expressed different opinions on how the protest should be conducted.
The protesters expressed complete dissatisfaction with how individual farmer protesters and Beef Plan Movement officers had been treated with regard to injunctions and the threat of legal action.
They requested that the Minister intervene and have all threats and injunctions lifted, as they believed it sent out the wrong message and increased the level of anger among farmers.
The Irish Farmers Journal was told that Minister Creed “accepted that this situation was not exactly what he wished to see and affirmed that he would make representations to have legal action addressed”.
A spokesperson for the Minister confirmed a meeting took place but declined to comment further.