Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD addressed the farmers protest in Dublin today. He stated:
“I am proud to stand with you here today. There is has been an insurrection in rural Ireland comparable to the Right to Water campaign a few years ago. It has happened because rural Ireland is disintegrating.
“The problem here is very simple. The beef industry is asymmetric. It’s an oligopoly. A small number of very large factories have massive buyer power and control all the conditions of sale. Tens of thousands of small farmers have no supplier power and have no influence over price or conditions.
“One factory owner made €170 million in profit last year, is tax resident in Luxembourg paying 0.5% tax and has assets worth €3.5 billion. That factory owner expects each farmer in Ireland to provide cattle at his gates at a loss. Supermarkets are making super normal profits.
“By participating in this market farmers are making a loss. The average wage for a farmer is now between €8,000 and €10,000. It is only this level because of the subsidy. This lower than the pension. The subsidy is 140% of their income. Think about that. The farmer would make more money if he or she stopped producing.
“I spoke to Pat Deering, a senior Fine Gael TD and the chair of the Agriculture Committee. He said to me that the farmers’ expectations are unreasonable. He said looking for a price that was higher than break-even point was never going to happen. The Taoiseach has added to the crisis by his support for the EU-Mercursor Deal.
“This crisis is pushing tens of thousands of farmers into poverty, debt and off the land so hundreds of millions of euro can be funnelled into the hands of the factory owners. Farmers must use this election to clear out those who are doing damage.”