Farmers blockade Aldi distribution centre in row over beef prices
The action is the latest by the Irish Farmers’ Association as it warns some farmers are struggling to survive.
A major supermarket distribution centre is being blockaded by farmers in a protest over beef prices.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) mounted the blockade at the Aldi supermarket facility in Naas, Co Kildare, from 7am on Thursday morning, saying it intends to stay there for 12 hours.
The row has been ongoing for months, with the price of beef at its lowest in years and with many farmers claiming they are struggling to survive and may be forced out of business without Government intervention.
Protests at the gates of meat processing plants across the country have ended in arrests and injuries, while a Chinese delegation was prevented from entering certain sites for inspections during the summer.
Last week, Dublin city centre was brought to a standstill as a long motorcade of tractors blocked many of the main thoroughfares as protesters demanded to see Agriculture Minister Micheal Creed.
In the latest protest at Aldi, about 30 farmers with two large tractors blocked the front and rear entrances.
It led to a tailback of lorries as drivers were prevented from entering the centre.
About 40 lorries were parked up alongside the road in order to keep the main thoroughfare clear.
Drivers and farmers could be seen chatting, while a small Garda presence directed traffic, with a generally good-natured atmosphere.
The men stood in huddles, with truck drivers on one side and farmers on the other.
The farmers stood round a barrel fire and passed around sandwiches and coffee. They blocked the road with bales of hay, which they rolled out of the way to let staff in cars enter and exit the building.
The farmers held posters saying: “All we want for Christmas is a fair price,” adorned with an IFA logo, while IFA county banners from Galway and Kildare could be seen draped over the gates.
The IFA has called on meat processors to increase cattle prices to Irish beef farmers with immediate effect, stating so-called beef talks are not necessary in order to deliver its wish.
It says beef farmers are incurring losses of 6 million euro a week, while cattle prices are increasing in key EU export markets and in the UK.
IFA presidential candidate John Coughlan, speaking at the farm blockade, said the Government needs to realise that for farmers the beef task force is the equivalent of national pay talks.
“All the parties to the talks, including the meat industry, are saying they want a deal,” he said.
“If so, why are we not all in a room right now looking to agree one? The lack of urgency is staggering. Farmers do not need a stop-start talking shop, they need action. The only people who benefit from delays are meat barons who are pocketing the additional margin which independent analysis shows is in the market.”