Just over 60pc of dairy farmers intend to increase milk production after quotas go in 2015 and half of these aim to limit expansion to 20pc.
These are among the most surprising findings of a major farmer survey carried out by the Farming Independent at the National Ploughing Championships in New Ross last week.
With a 50pc increase in milk supplies targeted under the Food Harvest 2020 plan, the survey findings appear to cast doubt on this level of expansion being achieved.
The survey found that 62pc of the 212 dairy farmer respondents intended to expand their dairy operation in the wake of milk quotas being abandoned by the EU in 2015.
Some 28pc of milk suppliers said they had no plans to increase production, while 10pc said they were not sure.
Of those who plan to expand, 48pc said that they would increase milk output by up to 20pc.
A further 39pc said they would grow their total milk supply by between 21pc and 50pc, while 11pc said they would increase output by between 51pc and 100pc.
The survey showed that farmers with smaller holdings were least likely to expand.
Just 48pc of milk suppliers with under 100ac said they planned to expand their operations after quotas were scrapped.
Forty-three percent said they would not expand, while 9pc were unsure.
In contrast, 79pc of farmers with over 200ac indicated they planned to expand, while just 14pc said they would not and 9pc were unsure.
Some 63pc of farmers with between 100ac and 200ac said they intended to expand, 25pc said they would not and 12pc were undecided.
In terms of age, 73pc of farmers aged 20-40 said they intended to expand, 59pc of those between 41 and 60 would do likewise, while the figure for those over 60 was 59pc.
Dairy farmer confidence has been shaken this year by the fall in milk prices and the sharp increase in input costs.
- Declan O'Brien