Meadow Meats in Rathdowney
The owners of the Meadow Meats factory in Rathdowney say they "are not ruling out the plant’s closure, due to the continuing illegal blockades by a small number of protestors."
In a statement they said that "staff who work at the factory were temporarily laid off last week, but this action will become permanent if the plant’s owners decide that ongoing intimidation and illegal blockades have called the long-term viability of the business into question. This would mean the closure of county Laois’s only processor, limiting the options for local farmers as to where they sell their cattle.
"Over 300 local farmers have been in touch with the plant in recent days seeking to sell 10,000 cattle, but cannot be accommodated, causing them unnecessary financial difficulties."
Meadow Meats says it has "confirmed that none of the protestors are suppliers of cattle to the factory. Their illegal blockade is in breach of a permanent court order and shows contempt for the deal agreed over the weekend between 7 farmer representative groups, the Department of Agriculture and the beef processors.
"There have been many instances of intimidation, verbal and physical abuse displayed over this dispute. Protests took a sinister turn last week when protestors put on masks to avoid being identified."
A spokesperson for Meadow Meats said, “The blockaders want higher cattle prices but by their illegal actions they are damaging future prospects for Irish beef. Customers who we are unable to supply will take their business elsewhere, and the protestors’ actions may well result in lower prices to the genuine famers who are not involved in this illegal behaviour. The current situation is unsustainable and we cannot rule out having to close the business, meaning Laois’s only beef factory would not be available to service the local farmer community.”
Meadow Meats said they were the largest employer in Rathdowney, and many other local businesses are suffering loss of revenue due to the entire workforce being laid-off due to the illegal blockade.