THE Beef Plan Movement today held a peaceful protest at Musgrave's Distribution Centre in Ballyphehane as the ongoing beef dispute continues.
More than 3,000 meat processors’ jobs were lost this week as farmers continue to protest at factory gates against the €3.45 per kilo of beef price they are receiving.
The picket lines have now moved to retail distribution centers in a bid to highlight what farmers describe as anti-competitive practices.
Such practices include the so-called '30-month age limit', which penalises farmers whose animals are brought to slaughter at more than 30 months.
At the protest, Helen O'Sullivan from the Beef Plan Movement said that practices like these need to be abolished.
"The factories are always saying that the retailers are looking for this and it's putting a lot of pressure on farmers because if your cattle goes over 30 months, you are reduced by 12c automatically per kilogram," she said.
"There is absolutely no need for these practices. There is no scientific evidence to prove this is required for the meat.
"We just feel it’s another way of taking money off the farmers and we want the retailers to come out and say that they don’t want these anti-competitive practices.
"Lidl have already done this; they have said that the 36-month beef is fine for them and Supermacs has also done the same thing, so that’s a huge plus to hear that."
On Monday talks with Meat Industry Ireland broke down due to ongoing protests outside the factories.
Ms O'Sullivan said that it is hugely regrettable that the beef disputes are causing such disruption but said that at the apex of rural Ireland is the farmers and they need to be treated fairly.
She said: "We’re going into the third week now and it’s not fair to the farmers.
"I know that the factory workers are being laid off, but if the farmers weren’t in the equation, those jobs would be permanently gone."
Literature at the protest indicated the unequal distribution of revenue, highlighting that if a consumer spends €10 on beef, the retailer gets the lion's share of this.
It's this that is causing the death of rural Ireland, said Mary O'Sullivan, who was in attendance at the protest.
"Rural Ireland is a dying generation. Co-ops, the post offices, the small shops - everything that was of value to the small farming community is gone."
"There’s no future for young people in farming", she added.