Co Leitrim farmers joined thousands of others in a 24 hour nationwide protest at 30 meat plants on Monday and Tuesday this week.
At the peak of the protest, over 10,000 farmers assembled at the meat plants as part of the IFA’s 24-hour beef price protest.
Co Leitrim IFA Chairperson, Pat Gilhooley said that local farmers were protesting outside Dunleavy Meats, Ballina, Co Mayo and Kepak, Athleague, Co Roscommon.
Farmers braved the wet and windy conditions overnight on Monday and into Tuesday to highlight their anger and frustration over the €350 per head cattle price gap which has opened up between Ireland and the UK.
“There has been a very big turnout,” Mr Gilhooley told the Leitrim Observer.
“The problem is that farmers’ backs are to the wall. It is totally unacceptable that there is such a difference in price between here and a stone’s throw away in the North and the €350 difference with mainland UK,” he said.
The Co Leitrim IFA Chairperson is calling on the Ministers for Agriculture here and in Northern Ireland to immediately move to sort the labelling issues which are causing major problems for farmers here in Ireland.
IFA President Eddie Downey said that he was delighted by the show of strength from farmers during the protest.
Mr Downey said in the last number of weeks, prices in the UK have increased by over €100 without any increase in Irish prices. Irish prices are now below the EU average.
He called on the meat factories to reflect the improved market situation in beef prices to Irish farmers without any further delay.
However Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has condemned the IFA factory blockade calling it “misguided and counterproductive”.
The Chairperson of MII, Ciaran Fitzgerald, said “The Beef Round-table set up by Minister Coveney is the appropriate place to engage on issues of importance to the sector, not the factory gate. Senior meat industry members have offered, through MII, to meet with IFA representatives however the IFA have refused to attend” he said.
“While output prices are obviously important, they are not the sole determinant of farm profitability,” he said.
“The IFA have continuously refused to engage in terms of on-farm efficiency, input costs and farm profitability. A refusal to focus on input costs and efficiency means that the key elements affecting farm incomes for beef farmers are not being addressed,” said Mr Fitzgerald.