"Not going to be any cull" of the national herd, says Leo Varadkar
TD Michael Healy-Rae accused the Tánaiste of "codding the farmers of Ireland".
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said there is "not going to be any cull" of the national herd.
The Tánaiste made the comments in the Dáil when quizzed by TD Michael Collins about the Climate Action Plan and whether there would be a cull on cattle in Ireland.
Collins called for a "proper and full debate" as to what is happening in relation to the plan.
He said there is "serious worry" that 50,000 jobs are in jeopardy in relation to the people who work with dairy and suckler herds in the country.
In response, Varadkar stated he would be happy to have a debate on the matter, before ruling out a cull.
"Just let me be very clear, Deputy. There's not going to be any cull of the herd," he said.
"That is not a proposal in the Climate Action Plan. What we anticipate seeing over the next number of years is herd stabilisation.
"Some farmers may increase the number of animals they keep. Others may decrease them because they decide to diversify into other areas - plant trees, engage in carbon farming, farming to other things.
"But we expect in the round to see herd stabilisation, it staying at roughly the same size as that now and we believe that a 10% reduction in methane... can be achieved over a 10-year period."
Varadkar also added that Ireland without its beef industry and dairy sector "would not be Ireland".
"We're proud of the fact that we're able to produce nine times as much food as we need and we're going to continue doing that," he said.
However, TD Michael Healy-Rae took issue with Varadkar's use of the word "stabilisation".
"The Tánaiste keeps using this word - 'stabilising' the national herd," the TD said.
"Would he please stop using misleading language? You're codding the farmers of Ireland by coming out with that type of a statement.
"Stabilisation means a cut and call it what it is."