A voluntary cow scrappage scheme could open to dairy farmers early next year, according to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

Minister McConalogue said the details of a dairy cow reduction scheme will need to be ironed out with stakeholders but he expects clarity to emerge before September.

The minister’s comments came when he was before the Oireachtas environment committee delivering an update on climate policy.

The reference year for any reduction scheme is to be 2022.

It was advised by the Food Vision Dairy Group last year that a cull scheme be opened, despite no farmer stakeholders in the group backing the proposal.

Farmers would have to agree to destock a specified number of dairy cows under contract for a specified period of time in the scheme proposed by the group and not replace these cows with other breeding cattle or sheep.

The report put the income foregone at €590 per lactation for farms completely exiting dairy and €970 for farms cutting numbers.

Animal live value, the expected number of remaining lactations and farm profit in non-dairy enterprises were said to be factors that should influence the payments farmers receive.