Beef farmers have been staging more protests around the country this week regarding the fall of beef prices in the past few months.
Beef prices are down by around €200 a head from last year and Irish Farmers Association president Eddie Downey said that farmers felt betrayed by the "unacceptable behaviour and lack of corporate responsibility on the part of the powerful players in the supply chain."
One of these protests was staged outside a McDonald's in Kilkenny earlier in the week. Farmers' placards read: "Beef prices: We're not loving' it." McDonald's buys around 400,000 tones of Irish beef for supply to its European outlets every year, making it the largest purchaser of Irish beef by volume. One in five burgers sold in European McDonald's restaurants is Irish.
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Downey said that meat factories, retailers and food service outlets must all share in the blame for "standing back and letting farmers take the full financial hit in this crisis".
However, a McDonald's spokeswoman said that McDonald's remains committed to supporting the Irish beef and Irish agri-food sector"
A spokesman for Meat Industry Ireland - the organisation which represents processors - said that the organsiation's view was that the reduction in beef prices was "a reflection of the very significant recession-driven drop in EU beef consumption 700,000 tones since 2010 compounded by an increase in EU beef output in 2014."
Farmers also staged a protest at a Lidl store in Roscommon, ahead of a meeting on the crisis last night. However, processors did not attend the meeting despite being invited, which drew further ire from the farmers.
Downey said that retailers and food outlets have said that their specifications had not changed for beef, however the factories are saying that the specifications have changed.
Downey also requested that the agriculture minister Simon Coveney maintain pressure on meat processors to explore a more flexible approach to the specifications on age and weight of carcasses and that he remain involved in talks to resolve the crisis.