The Irish government plans to slaughter 200,000 cows in order to reduce CO2 emissions by half within eight years. However, the plans are also facing resistance in Ireland. Here are five questions and answers.
The Irish government, consisting of Christian Democrats and Greens, wants to reduce the livestock population by 200,000 cows to meet the climate targets, a reduction of 10 percent. This intention is stated in policy documents that have been obtained by The Irish Independent through a Freedom of Information request. Financial incentives are intended to encourage farmers to participate by reducing their herds or transitioning to arable farming. Dublin claims that it is a ‘projection’.
Ireland is a major exporter of dairy and meat products. The country aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by half within eight years and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, applying these reduction plans to all sectors. In terms of agriculture, there has been long-standing disagreement between the conservative Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, and his Green colleague in the Environment Department, Eamon Ryan. Compensation for farmers is expected to cost the Irish taxpayer 600 million euros.
Why specifically reduce the cow population?
According to the Irish June Livestock Survey, there are 2.5 million cows on the green island. Cows emit methane gas through their digestive processes, including defecation, flatulence, and belching. Agriculture accounts for one-third of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen is also a concern. While the number of beef cows has decreased, the number of dairy cows has increased for the eleventh consecutive year, and milk production per cow has increased by 2.5 percent.
What do the farmers believe should happen?
Irish farmers are open to scientific methods of reducing emissions. Recently, the UK government announced its plans to feed “methane blockers” to its 9.4 million cows, which is a substance made from red seaweed that is claimed to prevent flatulence and belching.
Do the farmers receive support?
Yes. Conservative-nationalist politician Peadar Tóibín has stated that it is madness to import more beef from countries like Brazil at the expense of the Amazon rainforest and their own farming community. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and Twitter, has criticized the Irish government’s approach, stating, “Killing cows makes no difference for climate change.” Half-Irish politician Caroline van der Plas has been in contact with Irish farmers.