Ireland is considering reducing its dairy herd by 10 per cent to meet climate targets. Emissions from agriculture must be reduced by a quarter by 2030, the Irish government has determined. One of the options to achieve this is the culling of 65,000 cows a year, over a three-year period, reports UK trade magazine Farmers’ Weekly.
Agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue told the radio morning show RTE Morning Ireland that a ‘vision group’ with representatives from the industry is looking at the various options for reducing emissions from the farmyard. This includes a voluntary discharge scheme, which is now being considered. Further information on the various agricultural emission reduction proposals will follow during the year, the Irish Department of Agriculture said.
Ireland’s farmers’ union, The Irish Farmers’ Association, is reacting with anger. Chairman Tim Cullinan argues that such reports do nothing more than reinforce farmers in their belief that the government is working behind the scenes to undermine the livestock industry.
“There will certainly be dairy farmers considering quitting,” he acknowledges. “But instead, we should all focus on how we can pave a way for the next generation who also want to farm.”
Cullinan added that slashing dairy and meat production in Ireland will only result in that production moving to other countries with a higher carbon footprint, which will actually increase global warming.
Elaine Houlihan, president of Irish rural youth organisation Macra na Feirme, described the government proposal as a “very predictable knee-jerk reaction” by the government. The proposal could be very detrimental to the livestock sector, Houlihan said.