European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has accused supermarkets and meat processors in Ireland of "squeezing" farmers and driving down the price of beef because of their dominant market position.

Mr Hogan told RTÉ News this evening that it was important that beef farmers "survived".

He said: "If we don't have good producers, we won't have good quality and we won't have good product for our consumers, and that's my concern.

"I'm anxious to ensure that whatever regulatory change is required meets those criteria."

Mr Hogan said he was "very concerned" that there appeared to be "no effort" to share information in order to ensure that the regulatory system in place guarantees quality.

He said: "We can only do that with a well-trained and well-informed agricultural producer who actually survives these penal times in relation to the squeezing of the market share and the squeezing of the price.

"My job as Commissioner for Agriculture is to ensure that producers are able to produce good quality raw material, that they survive this difficult financial situation and that supermarkets and meat processors will not squeeze them further."

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Hogan said producers are the key part of the "chain" involving beef farmers, processors and supermarkets.

Mr Hogan said that if anyone had information about an alleged cartel involving beef processors they should contact the competition authorities in their member state.

"The Competition Directorate [of the European Commission] would be interested in any information, but we haven't received any information at the European Commission to warrant any investigation," he said.

His comments come a week after farmers and processors agreed a deal to address concerns about beef prices.

Farmers have held two protests in recent weeks to complain about the price they were being paid for their beef.

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers' Association has accused the new Competition and Consumer Protection Commission of protecting big business over farmers.

Organisers said about 50 members of the IFA Executive Council held a protest outside the commission's Headquarters in Dublin this afternoon.

The IFA received a letter from the Commission last week in advance of the Beef Forum, telling it that pricing cannot be discussed at the forum.

But the IFA has questioned why the commission has not done more to investigate why Irish farmers are getting up to €350 per head less for their cattle than their counterparts in the UK.

IFA President Eddie Downey said farmers had a legitimate right to protest.