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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘When you go to anaerobic digestion, that will reduce the herd’ – Ryan

Irish farmers will see increased revenue from solar power, forestry, and anaerobic digestion but will require supports to diversify.

That is according to Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, who appeared on RTÉ Radio 1’s mid-morning show with Philip Boucher-Hayes on Friday, July 29th, 2022.

The presenter asked the minister if there would be a reduction in the national herd and, if so, what payment rates the government would make available.

Boucher-Hayes stated that “after all, that is the just thing”. “The previous government’s policy led them to expand their herds, and now government policy is going to require them to contract their herds.”

In response, the minister said: “We are creating all these new incentivises and new opportunities to diversify. We are not going the route that the Dutch government has just gone.”

“They are a country that has had a similar problem with nitrogen and water pollution, in fact, worse. They have had to go to that stage where they have said, actually, no, we are cutting the actual herd by 30%.”

“The Netherlands is being very specific in terms of location in terms of you have to do this. That is not the route we [Irish government] are taking.”

“I believe that in the enterprising way that farmers are, in their interest in knowing what the right, clever, smart thing to do here, in setting those signals, particularly in the energy area is, but also in organic farming, manure and land management and new ways coming.”

Smaller Irish national herd

The presenter then pressed the minister once again on a national Irish herd reduction. “You are saying this 25% reduction can be achieved through cleverness and not having to cut the herd at all.”

The presenter added that farm organisations’ figures suggested that above 18% of reductions, could possibly result in a cut to the national herd.

In response, the minister said: “When you start using some of that grass to feed an AD rather than cattle, you have a lower herd.”

“We estimate that some 6,000ha to solar farms. It is grazed by sheep rather than cattle, but you reduce the cattle herd.”

“When you go to anaerobic digestion, that will reduce the herd. But the critical factor is it will increase income,” he claimed.

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