The new junior agriculture minister has said culling the national herd cannot be ruled out if Ireland does not meet its carbon emissions targets.
The Green Party wanted the programme for government to include a commitment to cull the national herd in five years' time if farming emissions reduction targets were not met.
Now senator Pippa Hackett, who was appointed a Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture last weekend, has said culling the herd could not be ruled out "as a last resort" if the sector fails to reduce emissions.
In a detailed policy paper presented at the government negotiations, the Greens stated: "A specific herd reduction may be required should we fail to transition to a farming model which reduces emissions by 2025. Farms with the highest stocking rates will be targeted initially".
The stocking rate is defined as the number of animals on a given amount of land over a certain period. The move to include such language in the final document was rejected by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
Hackett, who sits at Cabinet, told the Sunday Independent last month that culling the herd could not be ruled out "as a last resort" if the sector fails to reduce its emissions. "Ultimately, if we're going to go five years and we're not seeing any reduction from the sector, you are going to have to look at other possibilities and that is the most obvious one."
She cited the example of the Netherlands which was forced to cull 200,000 cows after breaching EU limits on phosphates.
However, Hackett said such a move would be regressive. "I wouldn't like it to come to that. It would be a failure on our behalf that we failed the sector, but there is a mountain to climb in agriculture. With good buy-in and farmers on board and farm organisations on board, I think we can do that."
Hackett's new role gives her responsibility for land use and biodiversity.