The Irish Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has asserted that the government has no plans to cull cows in a bid to tackle climate change.
The news follows reports in the Irish media that part of the new Climate Action Plan would propose cutting cows number by 10%. However, senior government ministers have rubbished the rumours saying the plan is to cut methane by 10% which does not mean cows will be culled.
Minister McConalogue told the press: “The agri-food sector is committed to reducing our emissions over the course of the decade by 25%. Our focus is on ensuring that agriculture continues to be a world-class producer of food while we step out our climate ambitions.
“We are finalising the details of the Climate Action Plan where we outline how we continue on the journey of being the sustainable food capital of the world. There will be no measure in the Climate Action Plan that will be forced upon farmers.
“All measures will be voluntary and aimed at supporting our farmers to continue to produce world-class food, while also diversifying income streams through tillage, energy generation and forestry.”
He added: “I am committed to delivering on the three pillars of sustainability in agriculture – environmental, societal and, crucially, economic. Separately, through the Food Vision 2030 group which I established and published its report in 2021, the sector has already committed to a 10% reduction in methane by 2030. This does not directly correlate to a 10% reduction in numbers.”
Irish media reports claimed that the Climate Action Plan stated the need to cut the distanced travelled by cars by 20%, with a large scale switch to public transport.
When asked about the 10% cut to the herd and the 20% cut for transport by RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Climate Minister Eamon Ryan said that he could not confirm them as he “didn’t know where they came from”.
But he said: “There is a real change in both those sectors. Each sector has a different level of ambition. Agriculture probably the lowest at 25% cut this decade, transport a 50% cut, energy some 75%.
“What people in agriculture and farmers are most concerned about is what is the income. How do we protect family farms? That is what we’re focusing on. How do you protect and create new income streams to get a new generation of young people into farming and forestry?”