Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has refused to say whether he will follow through on the proposed suckler cull schemes recommended to him in the Food Vision beef report.

Neither did the minister answer questions from the Irish Farmers Journal on the compensation which would be paid to farmers or where the money could come from to incentivise them to cut cow numbers.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the body representing the factories, has condemned the cull schemes, warning they would cost the rural economy €1.5bn in beef output, 6,500 job losses and 14,500 farmers leaving the sector.

MII chair Philip Carroll said the recommendations would lead to a cull of 200,000 sucklers and called for resources to be invested in accelerating scientific and technological advances.

However, Food Vision beef and sheep chair Prof Thia Hennessy was blunt. “It’s important for people to be honest with each other. We can’t meet the [legally binding climate] targets without reducing cow numbers,” she told the Irish Farmers Journal, adding that new technology will take years to implement.

It is understood Minister McConalogue is meeting the farm organisations and MII individually this week in the wake of the report’s revelations.

“I am exploring what measures from both the dairy and beef and sheep reports can be used as part of the Climate Action Plan which is expected to be published shortly,” the minister told the Irish Farmers Journal on Wednesday.