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scaremongering

Rural Independents accused of ‘scaremongering’ during Dáil debate on supposed cattle cull

Ministers said a cull had never been proposed by the government

THE LEADER OF the Social Democrats, Holly Cairns, accused the Rural Independent group of stirring up fear during a two-hour debate on a motion asking for a guarantee there would be no “cull” of cattle in Ireland to reach environmental targets.

“It’s no wonder that farmers are afraid of what might happen to their family farms and their businesses, because the Rural Independents are failing to be honest with them,” Cairns told the Dáil today.

“Scaremongering about culls is not honest. There’s no proposed cull on cattle. It’s cynical political fiction designed to ramp up fear and drum up votes.”

TDs with the Rural Independent Group, who introduced the motion, have warned of a supposed cull of cattle since media reports indicated that up to 65,000 dairy cows would need to be taken out of production annually up to 2025 for the agriculture sector to meet its climate reduction targets.

These reports were based on documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, which The Department of Agriculture has not released to The Journal, following repeated requests.

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

“We, the Rural Independent group,will call on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green government, to categorically, once and for all declare that they will not pursue a compulsory or voluntary cull of the national herd, with no introduction of any caps on any Irish cows or beef numbers,” Cork TD Michael Collins said, introducing the bill.

“If this government will not clearly support this motion, let there be no doubt to any farmer out there that these politicians or their party has either destroyed or will destroy their farm income.”

Both the minister for agriculture, Charlie McConalogue and a minister of state at the Department of Agriculture, Martin Heydon, responded in the Dáil that no cattle culling scheme was being proposed by the government, and there would be no compulsory reduction in cattle numbers.

Bríd Smith, a Dublin TD with  People Before Profit–Solidarity, accused the bill of being a “trojan horse” to preserve the status quo and distract from real issues facing the agricultural sector.

“The motion speaks of 200,000 dairy cows being culled. That indeed would be a shocking sight and a shocking policy… if it was true”, Smith said.

“The problem is that it’s not true and from what I can see no amount of anger, conspiracy theories, or mixing up the idea of a slaughter with the idea of reduction over time, makes it true.”

“There is very much to be angry about. But, yet again, these deputies prefer to get angry about an imaginary policy and ignore the real dangers to urban and to rural Ireland,” Smith said.

“It seems that the anger is reserved for any attempt to stop polluting rivers and lakes or any suggestion that climate change is real.”

The passing of the motion was delayed when Rural Independent TD Mattie McGrath appeared to have objected against his own group’s motion.

“It’s not agreed, actually,” McGrath said when the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Catherine Connolly, asked if the motion should be passed.

“You’ve tabled a motion, are you telling me now that you’re—?” Connolly began asking.

“I’m telling you now that this is a charade,” McGrath said. “We’re not voting against it. I’m just expressing my disgust.”

A press release was later sent on behalf of the Rural Independent group, called: “Government’s Climate-Crazed War on Farmers Exposed: No FF, FG, or Green TDs Show Up for Crucial Dáil Debate”

(The minister for agriculture, Charlie McConalogue and a minister of state at the Department of Agriculture, Martin Heydon, attended and spoke at the debate).

“The failure of the ministers to unequivocally rule out a national cow cull reveals that the Department of Agriculture is forging ahead with plans, favouring radical climate policies over the best interests of farmers,” it quotes McGrath.

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