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File image of a herd of cattle in Doonbeg, County Clare. Alamy Stock Photo
dairy cows

Agriculture Minister says farmers 'very much up for' scheme that would see reduction in dairy herd

Rural Independent TD Michael Collins said it is a ‘secret plot to massacre our precious cows’.

AGRICULTURE MINISTER CHARLIE McConalogue has said farmers are “very much up for” exploring a voluntary dairy reduction scheme.

It comes amid reports that the numbers of dairy cows in Ireland will have to be reduced by up to 65,000 cows per year up to 2025 if the agriculture sector is to meet its climate reduction targets.

The sector has been tasked with cutting its carbon emissions by 25% by the end of the decade.

Rural Independent TD Michael Collins denounced it as a “secret plot to massacre our precious cows”.

He added that the “government has been caught red-handed in a diabolical scheme to exterminate our bovine population” and said: “The government’s draconian emission reduction targets for agriculture would inevitably result in a nationwide cow massacre.” 

Collins also claimed that the voluntary dairy reduction scheme is an attempt to “diminish and annihilate the sector’s capabilities”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister McConalogue said his “team is currently scoping out” a voluntary dairy reduction scheme and that “it’s something that’s under consideration”.

He added that the scheme was one of the recommendations of a dairy vision group.

McConalogue said that “it’s a journey that farmers are already on” and that farmers are “very much up for” schemes like these.

“That is something that has been proposed and I am currently considering whether a voluntary option for those wishing to exit would be put in place,” said McConalogue.

He also pledged a 50% increase in government funding for schemes that “support farmers on that journey” to deliver a 25% reduction in carbon emissions from farming by 2030.

McConalogue also said that he will work closely with farming bodies to ensure that there aren’t “any shocks or surprises here”.

He added that a final decision hasn’t been made yet in the scheme but that “farmers were open and proposed the idea that where some dairy farmers wanted to exit, that a voluntary exit scheme would be helpful in that regard”.

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