The first protest was a12-hour blockade outside an Aldi facility, located in Naas, Co. Kildare, campaigning against the prices paid to farmers compared to retail prices. This has been followed up with a similar protest outside a Lidl distribution centre in Charleville, Co. Cork.
A Lidl spokesperson said: "At Lidl we appreciate the importance of regular and transparent communication with farming representatives and we understand the difficulties faced by many farmers. As recently as last week, Lidl management had constructive discussions with members of both the Beef Plan Movement and the Irish Farmers Association.
"We also know that our customers are hugely appreciative of quality Irish produce. For this reason we are supportive of the work of the Beef Taskforce and hope they can make positive progress rapidly in the interest of all parties."
Although an Aldi spokesperson confirmed that there was no disruption to any stores, trade body Meat Industry Ireland (MII) labelled the blockades “an irresponsible and completely unjustified stunt”.
“Disrupting normal business operations and harming the livelihoods of associated service providers does nothing to help the market situation.
“It is just two days since the first meeting of the Beef Taskforce. Every effort is being made to address the many actions in the Irish Beef Sector Agreement. Yet, the IFA has chosen to undermine this process by engaging in this illegal blockading activity. This is not giving the taskforce due time. This and further threatened blockading activity are an expression of internal farm organisation politics playing out in the form of disruption of businesses.”
MII also queried comments made by IFA president Joe Healy regarding prices and the Beef Taskforce meeting earlier this week. Healy had said that he had put beef prices as top priority at the meeting however MII said this was not the case. “Contrary to comments by the IFA President this morning, the IFA knows that the Beef Taskforce cannot address price. This is a matter for the marketplace and individual processors.
“MII, on behalf of its beef processing members, engaged constructively in the meeting of the Beef Taskforce earlier this week and has since communicated to its members the strong views on current cattle prices that were expressed by farm organisations at the meeting.”
Aldi insists there was no dialogue prior to the blockade but Healy states that retailers were invited to participate in the talks between producers and processors that took place in August but they “refused to take part” and warned that “we will continue to take action until processors give a significant price increase”.