Macra has argued that artificial limitations will be put on dairy farmers using robots if the mooted addition of herd size limits on milking equipment is included by the Department in the new TAMS.

While the terms and conditions for TAMS III have yet to be published, it is expected that farmers milking more than 120 cows or those in farm partnerships milking more than 160 cows will not be able to draw down funding for any sort of milking parlour equipment.

This, according to former Macra president Thomas Duffy, will mean that farmers who applied under the last TAMS for a robot will not be able to apply for a second one.

Those affected, according to Duffy, are farmers who have already invested in one robot who are under the 120-cow limit but maybe only have 70 cows.

Those in farm partnerships who have just over 120 cows and two robots will also be affected, he maintained.


He said: “In reality, it’s a de-facto limit for those who chose to invest in robots. I can’t understand the logic of it.

“By taking prior investment into account under this TAMS, there’s an artificial limitation being put on farmers who have invested in one robot. There has been talk about limits of 120 cows but the reality is that this would limit a robotic farmer unfairly to less than 70 cows,” he said.

This, he argued, is making an unfair distinction between everyone else and robotic farmers.