Illegal blockades have now caused severe long-term damage to beef sector
A full working week has now passed since the Irish Beef Sector Agreement was reached on 15 September. Despite this, illegal blockades continue today at 18 beef processing sites across the country. This involves ongoing intimidation, blackmail and threats to staff, contractors, hauliers and farmer suppliers. Calls by the President, An Taoiseach and several Government Ministers for these illegal blockades to cease and the Agreement to be given a chance, are being ignored.
The illegal action of a small minority is negatively impacting the livelihoods of thousands of workers, farmers with cattle to sell, hauliers and other service providers, and is putting the entire Irish beef sector in jeopardy. There is an ongoing blatant disregard for the authority of the State and the law of the land by those involved, which includes non-farming and sinister elements. The notion of protesters voting whether to continue or not with their illegal action is absurd.
We have now passed the point of severe long-term damage to the sector. Customers have made decisions on supply for the next two-to-four weeks. They have been forced to exclude Irish beef from their plans for several weeks ahead and instead have sourced beef from alternative suppliers across Europe and beyond.
Over the last number of weeks, genuine farmers have missed out on the sale of cattle for processing worth €120 million. This week is likely to see a further 30,000 cattle unprocessed leading to a backlog at this stage of over 100,000 animals that simply will not be cleared before the end of the year.
How much longer is the State willing to allow a small number of protesters to illegally blockade facilities, endangering the livelihoods of 80,000 farmers and the jobs of 10,000 employees in beef processing?