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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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Opinion: Culling of national herd will be a lethal injection for rural Ireland

In this article, Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, expresses concerns over a possible national herd cull in Ireland.

Farmers are expected to shoulder an unreasonable and unrealistic burden to meet climate goals.

The government is expected to agree on sectoral emissions ceilings or carbon budgets –  which will cap the carbon footprint of various sectors until 2030 –  in the coming weeks.

An agreement was expected before the summer recess, but it was not reached.

National herd cull

There is talk that agriculture could be expected to cut its carbon footprint by 30%. There is no scenario where this number could be achieved without culling a significant portion of the national herd.

This would be detrimental not only to farm incomes but to the entire rural economy.

Every element of the food production process would be hit hard, from farmers and meat processors to marts and butchers.

The knock-on impacts would be the death knell for rural Ireland.


Farming in Ireland is grass-based, which is totally different to other countries. The figures being used to justify the proposed cuts are not correct.

If you start building a house, the foundation has to be right, so, if the figures being used to calculate the targets are wrong, so too will the objectives be skewed.

We have to be very clear on this; not a single tree outside the manicured forests are known to state and therefore are not included in the current carbon offsets.

In addition, a portion of the carbon offset that is being used if being allocated to industry, even though they are not the sector which is creating the offset.

Technological solutions are coming down the line that can assist not just agriculture but the entire economy in terms of achieving significant carbon footprint reductions.

Reduction figure

Some rural TDs are willing to compromise and agree to a 22% reduction. To me, that is them turning their backs on rural Ireland.
Only ten TDs opposed this bill; all the major parties supported the government.

Essentially, they gave the government a free hand to do as they pleased without a further vote.
The 18% reduction some farming lobbies are seeking is pushing this particular issue right to its limit.

Regardless of the number, one thing must be made clear to the government.

Any carbon reduction plan that involves the culling of our national herd will effectively be a lethal injection for rural Ireland.

Object to Ryan’s plans

All TDs, both rural and urban, must voice their objection to Minister Ryan’s plans.

And if the government does not listen, then I think the time has come for the people of rural Ireland to stand together and protest that their future is being undermined.

We cannot and will not accept such a plan and the pain and suffering it would inflict on hundreds of thousands of people across Ireland.

Other farming news articles on That’s Farming:

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

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