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To meet pollution regulations, Irish farmers consider slaughtering as many as 41,000 cows

While U.S. regulations are much more permissive than those in Europe, nitrogen limits have been a concern for the EPA.

Published: October 26, 2023 3:05pm

Farmers in Ireland are reportedly considering slaughtering as many as 41,000 cows in the next 10 weeks to comply with the country’s environmental regulations limiting nitrogen.

Ireland’s nitrogen limits are part of an agreement with the European Commission.

The country imposed restrictions this year, but they will become more restrictive in 2024 as the result of water quality concerns, according to

Farmers can comply with the restrictions first by increasing the amount of land they own or finding someone to remove animal waste from their land – or they will have to thin their herds. 

Cork South West Sen. Tim Lombard that to comply agreement a total of  41,000 cows would have to be slaughtered, many of which are under a year old.

Cattle waste contains nitrogen. Environmentalists are concerned about nitrogen pollution because of its impacts on climate change and water quality.

U.S. states have passed various regulations limiting nitrogen pollution in agriculture, many of them aimed at its use as a crop fertilizer, and there are some efforts by the EPA to reduce nitrogen pollution.

In 2019, the Dutch high court limited nitrogen emissions, which set off a wave of protests in the Netherlands. In May, the European Union approved a $1.6 billion plan to buy out Dutch farms in order to reduce nitrogen.

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