Sinn Féin agricultural spokesman in the Dáil, Martin Ferris TD, has confirmed that the North’s minister for agriculture and rural development, Michelle O’Neill MLA will attend a meeting with the managers of livestock marts in Ballinasloe on Friday next, 11 July 2014.
He also confirmed that the party’s MEPs, Martina Anderson, Liadh Ní Riada and Matt Carthy will be there.
That meeting will be followed by a public meeting on the crisis in the beef industry in Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe at 8pm. This meeting is open to all to express their views on the crisis.
“This is an opportunity to discuss solutions to the nationwide crisis in beef farming,” said Deputy Ferris.
“There is a crisis North and South, for different reasons but with the same effect: farmers’ incomes are dropping to the extent that some of them have to abandon the trade.”
“We are trying to facilitate a forum where the mart managers, the farm organisations and the beef farmers come together to try to resolve this situation.
“There is a problem too with manipulation of the market by powerful commercial interests and the need for regulation of the industry.
“The power to appoint a regulator has not been devolved to the North, but in the South, something will have to be done. Against powerful commercial interests, the beef farmers haven’t a chance and the government has to stand up for them and ensure a level playing field.”
“Agriculture and agri-business generally is the backbone of the Irish economy and we cannot allow a situation to develop where small beef farmers are destroyed. They must be supported to continue their work and stay on the land.”