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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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‘Average cattle herd is less than 80 animals but the minister wants farmers to cut back’

IFA president, Tim Cullinan, has said that Minister Eamon Ryan’s recent comments concerning the national herd are “at odds” with the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste’s previous commitments.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste previously stated that the government would not be seeking any reduction in cattle numbers in Ireland.

However, Minister Ryan, during his appearance on The Tonight Show on Virgin Media said that “we won’t have as many cattle, but we will have a greater income”.

He said: “One of the ways we can create incomes for farmers is using AD so some of the grass we are currently giving to cattle, goes instead to create our own gas, so we do not have to buy imported gas.”

The IFA has slammed the minister’s remarks, which, the body said, “appease those with an anti-animal farming agenda in his own party”.

Cow numbers 

IFA leader, Tim Cullinan, said:

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“Since 1999, the number of cars in Ireland has increased by 75%. The number of plane journeys has increased by over 150%. Meanwhile, the number of cattle has more or less stayed the same.”

“Yet, the minister wants fewer cows. The average cattle herd in Ireland is less than 80 animals, but the minister wants these farmers to cut back on their production from which they derive their income.”

“No other sector is being asked to take a direct hit on their incomes. Mitigation measures in the other sectors such as energy and transport will impact farmers, like other householders” he added.

“Rather than looking to developments in technology that are showing promising results, the minister is playing to his own gallery by proposing to reduce cattle numbers without any concrete alternatives for farmers,” he said.

Cullinan said minister Ryan talked about anaerobic digestion in his recent interview. However, the IFA argued that the government has “done nothing” to make this feasible at farm level.

“In any event, it will take years to put such infrastructure in place. It is unclear that it would improve incomes for farmers,” he said.

Sectoral emission ceilings

Cullinan said the government cannot force through “sectoral” emission ceilings without complying with requirements in their own legislation.

“An economic and social impact assessment of the effect of a sectoral ceiling; how the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane are to reflected; and the risk of carbon leakage are all requirements under the legislation.”

“The government, including Minister Eamon Ryan, would be derelict in their duty if these issues are not given due regard as required in the act,” he said.

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