'If we stand down now, we might as well stay down' says protester

Photo show, protesters outside the Kepak plant in Kilbeggan this afternoon.

Farmers protesting outside the Kepak factory in Kilbeggan say that they are not going anywhere until prices improve.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner yesterday, one local farmer, who asked that his name not be used, said that he and his fellow protesters are frustrated at the lack of progress in the negotiations between processors and farming leaders.

Until the matter is resolved and farmers receive a better price, he says that the now six day protest outside the the plant in Kilbeggan will continue.

"The shops are getting nearly a fiver for two days work, the factories are getting over three euro for three days work and we are getting two euros for two years work, a euro a year, out of a tenner's worth of beef.

"It's costing us twice as much as what we are getting to get the animal ready for here. We are not looking for the full price we are just looking for our fair share out of it just to keep going."

The farmer also criticised reports in the national media about the 3,000 temporary job losses at meat processing factories. He says that the tone of the reports suggests that farmers are to blame.

"The media can stop blaming the farmer for all the factory workers losing their jobs. It's not farmers. Meat Industry Ireland is holding back on the meetings. It's the farmer that is bringing the beef in that is keeping them in work. We are getting blame in the wrong."

In late July, a large crowd of farmers attended the week long protest at the Kepak plant that was organised by the Beef Plan Movement, which came to a close after the High Court issued a injunction. The crowd at this latest protest has been significantly smaller.

One of the protesters said that he was disappointed with the turnout this week and called on more farmers to join.

"The heart has gone out of the country at the minute. The first time we had the protest here we had great numbers. If we stand down now, we might as well stay down."

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