Ireland has 7.3 million cows and about 5 million people. It is a typical cow country that exports 90% of its dairy and meat because the conditions are so suitable for it: lots of grass and mild climate. The long history of the Irish with the animals is even recorded in myths.
Agriculture dominated the economy well into the 20th century, forming a picture of Ireland that still enchants visitors. The Irish cow walks outside much longer than the European colleagues and is considerably more often grass-fed. This was still possible after the EU abolished milk quotas and the government encouraged farmers to grow. They did, with new efficient cows and technology. The number of dairy animals has therefore grown considerably in recent years.
Methane and new science
But still, the Irish cow has to believe in it because the animal emits methane, a climate gas that, although it loses its effect faster than carbon gas, has for a few decades a negative climate effect that is 20-30 times greater than CO2 (although modern science sees it a little differently).
The Guardian reports that their government’s 135,000 Irish cow farmers have been ordered to reduce their climate-threatening emissions by 25%. The cow economy’s emissions are set at 37.5% of the harmful climate gases Ireland produces. This is mainly due to methane from burping cows. The new science claims that that methane is emitted anyway because it is the result of plant material that continues to grow even if the cows disappear. Because the emissions of rotting and decaying grass are not calculated on their own, according to avid cow scientists, they are wrongly attributed to the cow in the official books.
Transport must reduce its emissions by 50%; office buildings must reduce them by 40%. So farmers do not have to complain – as in the Netherlands around the nitrogen dossier – that they have to do more to save the climate or the environment than other sectors. Yet the farmers complain because they think that their farms can no longer be counted on if they have to shrink.
That’ll be fine.
By merging farms, making them larger and making the cows produce more efficiently, the goals are probably still possible to achieve. In this respect, the Irish cow farmers are better off than the Dutch. Due to the requirements set by the Dutch government in the field of nitrogen, scaling up is still difficult for us, so that farms become too small to continue to exist while sustainable foreign supply takes over their position in the market. Ireland’s offer can be an example of this. For this problem, see the parable of the pastor, the farmer and The Merchant.