Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said there is a range of issues which need to be examined in tomorrow's talks aimed at resolving a dispute between farmers and meet processors over beef prices.

Speaking at the Tullamore Agricultural Show, he also expressed confidence in former Department of Agriculture secretary general Michael Dowling in acting as chairperson for tomorrow's talks.

"We cannot contemplate failure. We face many big challenges. Not least putting the beef industry on a sound footing," Minister Creed said.

"I think we have all parties coming to the table with good intention. There will be very frank and honest analysis of the issues being brought forward by the Beef Plan and I hope we can make progress."

Nationwide pickets of plants have been suspended pending the outcome of those talks.

The Beef Plan Movement say the sector is in crisis with farmers under enormous pressure. They estimate beef and suckler farmers are incurring losses of between €150 and €200 per animal.

Last autumn, they say they were making between €10 and €20 a head per animal.

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Speaking in Tullamore, Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has called on the Minister to "provide leadership to the sector" and said he and the Government had a central role to play in addressing many of the issues being raised by farmers.

An estimated 60,000 people are expected to attend the Tullamore agricultural show in Offaly today. 

The Tullamore Show is the biggest one-day agricultural event in the country. There are over 1,000 exhibitor competitors with a prize fund of €175,000.

The FBD National Livestock show is an opportunity to display prime quality pedigree cattle considered to be amongst the best in Europe. 

The Tullamore Show provides a broad range of family-friendly events including arts and crafts workshops, cookery demonstrations, flower displays, a fashion parade, pony club and dog show.

As well as coveted gold medal awards for pedigree cattle, there are sheep competitions and the National Fleece Show for Alpacas.

This year the Hunt Chase All Ireland has moved from the RDS to Tullamore for the first time.

There are over 700 trade stands with exhibits from the agri sector and forestry, home industries, farm produce and machinery.

Farm safety is a key concern all year round and there are interactive workshops on site to show people how to change the way they approach machinery and handle livestock.