Donegal farmers are planning to hold protests outside a number of local supermarkets due to plummeting prices for their animals.
It follows the first local protest by the IFA outside the ALDI supermarket in Letterkenny in which a number of trolleys were commandeered.
Henry Burns, the IFA National Livestock Chairman who led the protest, said despite meat plants and supermarkets making major profits from the product, farmers are now getting €200 less per animal compared with one year ago.
Mr. Burns said the current situation as regards beef prices being paid to farmers was ‘unsustainable’.
“We currently have a situation where farmers are receiving €3.50 per kilo for their cattle and yet the average price that consumers are paying in the supermarkets is around €9 per kilo. One of the biggest chunks of profit being taken out of this cycle is by the supermarkets who get the product presented to them, ready for sale over the counter,” Mr. Burns told the Tirconail Tribune.
On Friday evening surprised shoppers discovered the IFA protest had come to the Aldi Store on the Neil T Blaney Road as a group of IFA members and their tractors arrived to take the shopping trolleys and baskets ‘out of commission’ for the remainder of the night.
The group of forty farmers and five tractors launched the demonstration at the ALDI outlet despite a strong protest from management and the arrival of Gardai as observers.
P.J. McMonagle, Chairman of the Donegal IFA Executive, said they had received a very positive response from the public who had a very good understanding of where ‘the farmers were coming from’.
“Consumers do appreciate the quality of food being produced on Irish farms and they are conscious of the fact that, someone in the middle, is creaming off the profits,” said Mr. McMonagle.
There was strong support for the plight of farmers with the only complaint being the lack of trolleys for shopping!
IFA President, Eddie Downey warned all of the other major retailers including SuperValu, Dunnes, Tesco and LIDL that they too face protests at their stores.
He said the anger and frustration of farmers is at boiling point and the unjustified price and specification cuts, which are severely damaging farmers and the Irish beef sector, must be reversed.
Mr. Downey said Teagasc has confirmed that livestock farmers’ incomes were down by 13% to 22% last year, at extremely low levels from €9,469 to €15,595.
He said “With beef prices in our main markets in the UK and across the EU stable and recovering, the current attack on prices led by the factories cannot be justified.”