The Irish government’s plan to phase out dairy and suckler cows continues to face substantial criticism from the Irish dairy industry. The potential reduction is smaller than originally announced, but according to representatives from the dairy sector, it contradicts the national plan to increase milk and meat volumes.
Emissions in Ireland must be reduced by 51 percent by 2030, with the aim of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Currently, the Irish agricultural sector is responsible for approximately 40 percent of these emissions. The sector is required to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. Various measures are being discussed to achieve this goal.
One of the government’s proposals involves culling around 180,000 dairy cows. Livestock farmers who voluntarily participate will receive up to 5,000 euros per animal. An earlier government plan had envisioned a reduction in the livestock population by 30 percent, which would have amounted to over 500,000 cows.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) opposes the “herd reduction program.” The IFA is against measures that limit domestic production. The scheme also has implications for companies that do not participate, limiting their development, according to the IFA. Furthermore, the government is overlooking the complexity of the sector and ignoring its interconnections with other industries.
The Irish advocacy group cites a potential shift in CO2 emissions as a concern if milk production in Ireland is reduced. The Irish Co-operative Organization Society (Icos) also fears the negative consequences of a phase-out scheme. There must be sufficient room for growth within the dairy industry to support existing family farms and enable generational renewal, says Icos President Niall Matthews.