The World Economic Forum did not order Ireland to cull cows

By: Nikolaj Kristensen
June 5 2023

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The World Economic Forum did not order Ireland to cull cows


The Verdict False

The World Economic Forum did not order a culling scheme outlined in an Irish government briefing paper.

Claim ID 7764abc2


On May 31, 2023, The People’s Voice, an outlet with a history of spreading false and misleading claims, published a story with a headline claiming that the World Economic Forum (WEF) ordered Ireland to kill 65,000 cows every three years to fight climate change. However, the body of the article states that farmers will be ordered to cull 65,000 cattle a year for three years – 205,000 every three years.

The article references reporting from the Irish Independent on an internal government document that mentions displacing up to 65,000 dairy cows a year for the next three years for the agriculture sector to meet emission targets. However, the Irish government is only exploring a possible – and voluntary – reduction scheme for the nation's dairy herd, and the WEF did not order them to explore it.

In Fact

On May 30, 2023, the Irish Independent reported that according to an internal Department of Agriculture briefing paper, up to 65,000 cows might have to be removed from the national herd every year for the next three years – not every three years as reported by the People’s Voice – for the Irish farming sector to meet climate targets. The paper was produced in late 2022 and suggests a need to actively manage dairy cow numbers in the short term to reach 2025 targets.

Based on the Irish Independent’s reporting, The People’s Voice published a story with a headline stating the WEF had forced Ireland to mass culling of cows as a way of meeting emission targets. However, the WEF is a non-governmental organization and does not have the power to force anything on national governments. Also, The People’s Voice describes the internal briefing paper as “leaked”, even though it was, in fact, obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Irish Independent. 

The Irish government is, however, exploring the possibility of a scheme for dairy farmers to voluntarily reduce their herd. Speaking to Logically Facts, Charlie McConalogue, the minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, explained: “A key recommendation of the Food Vision Dairy Group, which reported to me last October, was to explore and take forward a voluntary reduction scheme for the dairy herd. My officials are currently working to explore this proposal further, and there will be significant engagement with stakeholders over the coming months on the parameters of the scheme.”

Worries about a possible reduction of the national herd – consisting of some 7.3 million cattle – have been spurred as the Irish Government has been updating its Climate Action Plan, a plan to outline what each sector, including agriculture, will have to do to achieve emissions reduction targets.

In a December 19, 2022 statement, McConalogue told many Irish media outlets that farmers wouldn’t be forced to cull their herd, as all measures under the Climate Action Plan “will be voluntary and aimed at supporting our farmers to continue to produce world-class food.”

The Verdict

The proposal of culling cows was outlined in an internal briefing paper and has not yet been put forward by the Irish government as a final policy. The Irish government is exploring the possibility of a voluntary scheme to reduce the nation’s herd of dairy cows. The WEF has played no role in this. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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