Labour and skills shortages in the agri-food sector are to be eased by the approval of permits for workers coming from outside the European Economic Area.
A total of 100 work permits have been announced for the dairy sector with a minimum remuneration threshold of €22,000 for farm assistants.
It follows 50 permit approvals as part of a pilot scheme.
In addition, 300 work permits for meat deboners have been approved with a minimum remuneration threshold of €27,500.
Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys announced the moves.
The aim is to make it easier for certain businesses in the agri-food sector to source workers from outside the EEA.
Mr Humphreys said labour shortages are becoming apparent in some sectors.
This has the potential to constrict growth if these needs are not met.
The requirement for labour on dairy farms is expected to increase by some 700 full-time positions per annum over the next seven years.
Mr Humphreys said the approvals will ensure in the short to medium term the sector’s immediate labour requirements will be met through the recruitment of non-EEA workers.
In the longer term, the sector will continue to progress initiatives to increase recruitment at home and in the EU.
Irish Farmers Association president Joe Healy welcomed the minister’s approvals for the dairy sector but said the same approach was now needed for the pig and poultry sectors.
He said these sectors are experiencing the same recruitment difficulties in the context
of full employment in Ireland and tighter labour markets all over Europe.