16 October 2000
Farmers arrested in beef protest
By FWi staff
EIGHT farmers are in police custody after being arrested during a demonstration at a Welsh meat plant in protest at beef imports.
Between 50 and 150 producers blockaded the St Merryn Meat plant at Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, late on the evening of Sunday (15 October).
The demonstrators were protesting against Irish beef imports and hoped to persuade St Merryn management to use more British meat.
But arrests were made after one group of protesters entered the premises in a bid to collect evidence on the quantities of Irish beef being processed.
A Merthyr Tydfil police spokeswoman said a complaint was received. The group were arrested in connection with conspiracy to cause damage to the plant.
The spokeswoman said there was no violence in the protest and that the arrests involve breaches of the sterile environment in the meat plant.
The farmers were still in custody on the morning of Monday (16 October) while police continued their investigation into the incident.
Devon farmer Richard Haddock, who was at the demonstration but not arrested, claimed that Irish beef was being dumped on the British market.
A slump in the French market meant that Irish beef exporters were now targeting Britain, Mr Haddock told Farmers Weekly.
He predicted: “Unless this is settled we could see a lot more protests taking place across the country.”