The Government will be able to pay more emergency aid to farmers, following a change of State aid rules set to be approved by the European Commission today.

If approved, the change will allow the State to give cash payments of up to €25,000 to individual farms hit by Brexit.

In some cases the amount of State aid that can be provided to individual farmers will increase by 66%.

The change to the so-called 'De Minimis' aid rules means payments up to a certain level do not need prior approval from the European Commission, as the amounts are deemed so small they do not threaten competition or trade in the single market.

In a related move, the commission will approve State aid funding of €5.75m for Irish food maker Carberry Food Ingredients Ltd.

The investment by Enterprise Ireland amounts to 9% of the plant is intended to help Carberry diversify away from cheddar cheese production, which is mainly for the UK market.

The business case for the State aid was that in order to secure 500 jobs at the company's west Cork operating region - and the incomes of 1,200 dairy farmers - it needed to shift its product focus beyond the UK market.

Mozzarella is a higher value product than cheddar, and has a growing global market.

The State investment in the €65m plant will be paid in instalments over the next two years.

The move is designed to increase the amount of flexibility states have to react rapidly to damage caused to farm incomes by Brexit.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys has led discussions with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, to seek easing of State aid rules in order to help the agri-food sector, which will be the industry hardest hit by Brexit.

The Irish Farmer's Association has welcomed the decision, but said it will be inadequate in a no-deal Brexit.

In a statement, IFA President Joe Healy said the increase to €25,000 is an important first step, but said "significantly more funding would be needed in a worst-case scenario".

He said with the "uncertainty around Brexit and the danger of unprecedented losses for farming and the agriculture sector, we cannot put a limit on support at this time".