Independent TD Michael Harty TD has said beef farmers continue to feel isolated and desperate and still don't have a guarantee that a base price will be paid for their product.

He was speaking during a Dáil debate on a private members motion on the importance of the Agri-Food sector on rural development.

The Government has said it will not oppose the motion.

The Clare TD said farmers were the ticking heart of rural Ireland and he said they were not being protected from "predatory meat processers."

Deputy Harty said the meat processors continue to make a "handsome" profit while paying the minimum price.

Deputy Harty said farmers get nothing for the Offal component of the animal which he said was a bonus for meat processors who generating profit at the expense of the farmer.

He said that famers were being exploited by forcing to sell their cattle at a loss so that others could make a profit.

Deputy Harty told the Dáil that farmers had been threatened by the courts when they protested and pressurised by Meat Industry Ireland.

He said Meat Industry Ireland had played one worker against the other by laying off staff instead of entering into face to face negotiations.

He said if the beef farmer continues to be unviable then the economic sustainability of their community is also put at risk.

Mr Harty said a fully independent investigation of the meat processing industry must be carried out to include pricing, trading and employment practices.

Fellow Rural Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae said farmers would be back at the factory gates in the not too distant future.

He said farmers had to take all the risk and many people depend on farmers in the rural community.

Independent TD Michael Collins said the Government didn't want to tackle the factories or the retailers.

He said there needs to be an independent investigation on what happens inside the factories.

He said every part of the animal was sold by the factories and he said they were making hundreds of euro but yet he said farmers couldn't get a base price.

Deputy Collins said farmers will be back at the gates protesting because he said the power of the retailers had taken over the country.

Minister of State for Food, Forestry & Horticulture Andrew Doyle said farmers would benefit from an increase in a range of bonuses under the new agreement.

He said the agreement was aimed at providing immediate benefits to farmers as well as addressing long term structural issues.

He told the Dáil that the measures offer a financial benefit and increase the numbers of animals which are eligible for a bonus on top of the base price.

He said a Beef Market Task Force would be established to develop the beef sector.

The Minister said the agreed measures outlined greater clarity for all stakeholders in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers.

He said he welcomed the fact that the beef protests had stood down and he said focus must now move to the implementation of the agreement.

Additional reporting Míchéal Lehane