“Deep concerns” have been raised that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine “has not included dairy related investments in its proposals” for farm investment grants under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020.

President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to immediately confirm that this is not the case.

McCormack said that such an action would amount to a “deliberate hampering of Ireland’s most successful and technical area of commercial farming”, adding that it is “practically impossible” to work out the logic behind such a move.

“If the idea behind this is the usual Green-inspired anti-dairy policy because of their mistaken belief that dairying is disproportionately emission-heavy, then the answer, surely, is more investment in modern equipment and storage, etc,” the president claimed.

“The whole point of TAMS [Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme] is the grant-aiding of modern low emissions plant and farm facilities; if dairying is removed then we’re deliberately setting out to make our most technical and successful area of commercial farming less modern and sustainable.

“It’s an absolutely bizarre and counter-productive logic that will really shake confidence in the reasoning of our Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine,” McCormack stressed.

Commenting further on the mooted proposals, the ICMSA president said that the measure will also have the effect of discriminating against those areas of the state where dairying is the primary farming concern.

“The net effect of this is that it removes farmers in dairying areas from eligibility for TAMS.

“Dairying in Ireland is heavily geographic and located in specific areas: discriminating against dairying amounts to discriminating against specific areas and counties and there’s no way around that.

“I would expect local representatives to demand that their farming constituents are given just as much opportunity to apply and be considered for TAMS as non-dairying farmers from other counties and areas.

“This is a very mistaken policy that will actually hinder the transition of our most successful farming sector to the lower emissions basis that we all know it needs to move towards,” McCormack concluded.