Government representatives in Ireland may be looking into a plan to slaughter 200,000 cows over the course of three years in an attempt to combat climate change, according to multiple reports. The Irish Mirror claims that it would cost taxpayers €600,000 to implement this plan, based on a document obtained through a freedom of information request.
Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, expressed his disapproval of the proposed plan. He stated that it would be necessary for the scheme to be voluntary, as it would be unfair to those that had taken out loans to achieve a certain goal.
McCormack also suggested that instead of culling cows, funds should be invested in research and infrastructure that would reduce emissions. He noted that the dairy herd is currently at the same size as it was thirty years ago, but has grown by 40% in the last decade.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine released a statement to respond to the reports. A spokesperson for the department clarified that this document was part of a deliberative process and is not a final policy decision.
The Environmental Protection Agency reported that agriculture accounts for 38% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to transportation at 18%. The Food Vision Dairy Group issued a report last October pointing to the need to address the negative environmental impacts of dairy production. Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, then proposed that farmers reduce the number of dairy cows.
Experts warn that this proposal could have consequences on food security. Brett Moline, spokesperson for the Wyoming Farm Bureau, believes that if the U.S. and U.K. were to cease food production, it would move to countries with less stringent environmental regulations.