Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said meat factories need to get out of the courts and farmers need to get off the picket lines so that talks on the future of the beef industry can resume.

He said that protest is fine, but it must be legal.

Parties need to be around the table to get a solution and he was working to try to find the conditions and environment in which that can happen, he added.

Speaking at the launch of the 2019 National Ploughing Championships in Co Carlow, Minister Creed said there can be no meat processing industry without farmers and no outlet for farming without the meat industry.

He said people need to work together.

The minister said he was open to meeting, "everybody and anybody", but what happens will be determined by the "main farming organisations" around the table, adding that everyone will "need to move ground somewhat".

Meanwhile, a visit by a Chinese delegation to a meat plant in Roscommon, which was cancelled on Monday, will go ahead following negotiations between the meat plant and protesting farmers.

The delegation's visit could see Kepak Athleague become Chinese export approved, which would open up new export opportunities.

The visit was cancelled by Kepak on Monday after protesters refused to allow animals into the factory to be slaughtered in preparation for the Chinese inspection.

Negotiations between senior management at Kepak and protesters started yesterday morning.

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Local TD Michael Fitzmaurice was a mediator in discussions and finalised the agreement late last night.

Management wanted the planned inspection of the plant to go ahead.

In a statement, Kepak said: "As a result of this mediation, the Chinese Audit will proceed as 150 cattle and 1,000 sheep sourced from local farmers will now be presented for processing on Wednesday morning.

"Protesters have agreed that they will ensure the safe entry to the site of both the livestock and the Chinese Audit team which will allow the audit to take place."

If Kepak Athleage becomes 'Chinese export approved', a new export market will open up.

The plant processes cattle and sheep meat and carries out 5% of the national kill according to Kepak.

It is understood that as part of the agreement Kepak has said it will not take legal action against any protesters or Beef Plan Movement leaders for anything that has happened over the past number of weeks.

It lifts a threat of a claim for damages as a result of protests which happened over the summer.

It was also agreed that the more than 1,100 cattle and sheep sold into the plant this morning were sourced locally.

It is a positive development for both sides; the Beef Plan Movement sees legal threats disappear, local farmers get to sell their animals and the possibility of export approval to China for Roscommon is one step closer.