Dairy farmers are being warned they may need to curtail the amount of milk they produce to ease pressure on dairy processors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dairy Industry Ireland which represents the dairy processors, says the closure of one plant as a result of coronavirus could have a catastrophic impact on the sector.

There are fears milk may not be collected and, as a result, farmers would have to dispose of it on their farm - at a time of year when dairy cows produce the most milk.

It means an already under-pressure processing sector will struggle to cope, while the amount of milk being produced here is heading for a record high this year.

Processors want farmers to try and reduce the amount of milk their cows produce - but the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) disagrees.

IFA President Tim Cullinan said he had full confidence that dairy co-ops will continue processing all milk during the current health emergency.

"Obviously the Covid-19 crisis poses some additional risks, but with proper co-operation and contingency planning between processors, and engagement with suppliers, it should be possible to manage," he said.

Talk of once a day milking is unhelpful and impractical, he added.

But DAI and the farmers do agree on one thing - that support schemes will be needed to help the industry.

"What we really need is an EU scheme to help co-ops across Europe store processed product, known as Aids to Private Storage (APS), as there may be short-term challenges in the market place where some markets are more difficult to access," said Mr Cullinan.

"I am confident that if we all work together, and with some support from the EU Commission through APS support, we will get through this crisis."