The UK Telegraph reported last week that officials in Ireland are considering a plan to cull about 200,000 cows as a way to combat climate change.
As part of the European Union’s effort to reach “net zero,” Irish officials are discussing several proposed plans, including allowing Irish farmers to voluntarily cull 65,000 cows a year over three years, reducing the national dairy herd by 10 percent while costing around $214 million a year, according to the Telegraph.
The Irish government said that no final decision has been made as yet and any culling would be voluntary as part of what it describes as a “retirement exit scheme” for farmers.
But Ireland’s plans to combat climate change have angered People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Fox News reported.
In a statement to Fox, a spokesperson for PETA noted that the dairy industry already “slaughters ‘spent’ cows on a massive scale to boost profits.” The spokesperson described Ireland’s proposal as the government hiring “kill squads” to reduce carbon emissions.
Calling the plan “ridiculous,” the spokesperson added that the better solution would be a “global shift to vegan eating” which would “discourage” farmers from continuing to breed cows.
Irish Senator Pauline O’Reily defended the “retirement exit scheme,” telling Fox News that farmers close to retirement don’t restock at the same levels they used to, so over time, their herds reduce in size. She said the plan doesn’t amount to “taking out cows and killing them.”
However, some farmers are afraid that it might be impossible to meet the climate change targets through only voluntary culling.
Irish Farmers’ Associate President Tim Cullinan told the Telegraph that a cull in Ireland would only shift beef and dairy production to other countries, ultimately undermining any attempt to reduce emissions.
He said while some farmers may want to “exit the sector,” the government should focus on “providing a pathway for a new generation” of farmers.