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Today a large demonstration was held by Waterford IFA outside Cappoquin Chickens-in liquidation- to protest at the plight of the poultry industry. Speakers included Padraig Walshe President of the IFA, Derek Deane IFA, Michael Keane Waterford IFA and Ned Morrissey chairman of IFA poultry committee.
Present also were Senator Paudi Coffey (FG), Cllr Nora Flynn (FG), Cllr Declan Doocey (FG), Cllr Kevin Wilkinson (FF), Cllr James Tobin (FF). There was IFA support from counties such as Monaghan and Meath. There was widespread local support not alone from farmers but from local business interests and the general public also. The closure of Cappoquin Chickens would hit 40 growers and 20 rearers and breeders and result in the loss of 150 permanent jobs and 50 seasonal jobs.
This protest received widespread coverage from RTE radio and television and TV3. In addition there were representatives of the printed media present. Growers are particularly thankful to the media for highlighting the plight of the poultry industry. The Irish poultry industry is now on the verge of extinction.
There was strong criticism of supermarkets which continuously push through reductions in chicken prices whilst maintaining their own profit margins. Processors pass on these reductions to the growers who then find profit margins further squeezed. In the words of one speaker "You cannot produce two chickens for the price of one". For growers profit margins are counted in cents. There was strong criticism of the lack of traceability of much of the foreign chicken used by caterers and take aways. Government policy on relabelling of foreign chicken as Irish-if it has been through Irish processors-was roundly criticized. There was a demand for action by the Government.
The local growers produce very high quality chicken which is much superior to an imported variety which often lacks traceability. In addition there is an excellent work force and a highly modern processing plant. With proper investment this plant has a future. An added bonus is that growers,rearers and breeders are highly flexible.
If this plant closes the spectre of economic Armageddon looms for west Waterford.