Richard Boyd Barrett TD has said he and People Before Profit are fully behind the protests by the Beef Plan movement over the last number of weeks and says the protests will be a key factor in winning a victory for small farmers in Ireland.
Talks between representatives from the Irish Farmers Association, Meat Industry Ireland, the Beef Plan movement and Bord Bia began yesterday at the Department of Agriculture and Boyd Barrett says these talks have been forced by the determination of the Beef Plan farmers.
“For years, small farmers have been shafted by the major beef processors such as Goodman, Keepak and Dawn Meats”, said Boyd Barrett.
“It’s only now that they have picketed the meat plants and protested all over the country that they are being listened to”.
Boyd Barrett went on to decry the “absolutely scandalous level of inequality” in the sector, highlighting the Beef Plan statistics that the farmers who spend two years raising cattle only get a 20% share of the income, compared to 51% going to the retailers and 29% to the beef processors, each of whom only have the meat for around 3 days.
“On the one hand you have the likes of Larry Goodman, who had profits of €170 million last year, and on the other you have thousands of farmers who are economically vulnerable and even at risk of poverty”, said Boyd Barrett.
“Now the EU along with the Irish government is pushing through the atrocious Mercosur deal and dealing another vicious blow, not just to small farmers and rural Ireland in general, but also to the planet, because it paves the way for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest that provides 20% of the world’s oxygen.”
People Before Profit want to:
- Scrap the EU-Mercosur deal.
- Take the big beef processors into public ownership to ensure a fair price for farmers.
- Do deal with Brexit and climate change we need a ‘just transition’ to diversify Irish agriculture. A just transition means that incomes are protected by state support and farmers are encouraged to stay on the land.