BY EMMA CONNOLLY
BEEF farmers insist their battle for better prices is far from over – in fact it’s just beginning.
Blockades at processing plants around the country have been lifted, including at Bandon’s ABP where some 255 staff had been temporarily laid off for two weeks.
A statement from the company said: ‘ABP can confirm that colleagues who were temporarily laid off will be returning to their posts this week. The resumption will be on a staggered basis, as it will take a number of days for the site to return to normal operating levels following eight weeks of severe disruption and blockades.’
With production in plants around the country back up and running, work is now taking place between stakeholders to put in place the agreement reached on September 15th.
That includes a commitment by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to set up a beef sector task force.
Vice chair of Cork’s Beef Plan movement, Kilnamartyra beef farmer Ger Dineen said lots of measures in the agreement had to be welcomed, particularly the eight cent increase on quality assured cattle.
‘Everything is a help but it doesn’t change that we are still producing below cost,’ he said.
Their members, he said, were weary after the past few weeks and were trying to get back to normal.
A meeting of all branches is set to take place in the coming days to form their strategy going forward.
‘But in the meantime farmers will be going broke – we don’t know if anything will really have changed for us before Christmas,’ said Ger.
He specifically called for a financial reward for farmers who finish animals during the expensive winter months.
‘A fixed price is needed in this regard or you could lose your shirt. Personally I won’t be finishing animals this winter.’
Meanwhile, TD Peadar Tóibín is drafting a bill which will look to ban below-cost selling in the beef sector.