“Dairy is a young persons’ game and they need incentives and opportunities and proper training. The farm apprenticeship can deliver in terms of training,” according to John Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Farm Managers Association.

Speaking at the launch of the Share Farming agreement with Teagasc, he said Irish dairying was growing by 6-7 % a year prior to quotas, and the opportunities to expand and grow will give people who deserve that opportunity the chance to do so.

He also said the programme must produce what the Farm Apprenticeship Scheme was doing – 75 students every year.

“They need to manage their own farms. If a young person is farming he is a farm manager and he has to have all the skills needed for the new era. Dairying is workable and it is a good career.”

He called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to ensure it puts resources into the programme, or in four-five years’ time we will wonder why Ireland is not achieving the targets set out under Food Harvest 2020.

He also said that only 5,000-6,000 dairy farmers know their cost of production and we need to mentor young farmers with the best farmers in the country to learn from an early stage to do this.

The Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management is the latest scheme to replace the Farm Apprenticeship Scheme.

The Farm Apprenticeship Scheme was set up in 1964 and has produced some of the most successful farmers and farm managers.