Changes to the rules governing milk production partnerships were recently confirmed, despite denials that any alterations were in the pipeline.
A distance limit has been re-introduced to prevent partnerships between those whose lands are over 100km apart.
In addition, individuals cannot represent more than one partner in each deal. This prevents scenarios where a farmer may have established a partnership with a trust or company in which they themselves were a key shareholder.
The rules are seen as another attempt to minimise the amount of quota being shifted out of more marginal production areas and follow last month's clampdown on the sale of land with quota attached.
Officials in western and northern dairy processors had complained that some farm sales this year were simply milk quota sales. The sales in question were of land with quota attached. However, the land invariably came back on the market once the milk quota was transferred.
The changes were announced on November 21, despite the Department's milk quota expert, Paul Savage, dismissing the possibility of any rule changes at Teagasc's National Dairy Conference the previous week.
Mr Savage has since moved into the Department's EU trade division, while John Downey has come into the milk quota section.