‘Exorbitant’ water charges slammed by IFA

IFA Connacht Vice-President Michael Silke has accused the Department of the Environment and local authorities for pursuing water-pricing policies, which are excessive and will drive farmers out of business. He said, ‘Department officials and local authorities up and down the country refer to the EU Water Framework Directive as the basis for the introduction of these excessive water charges. However this very Directive required Member States to give full consideration to the economic and the social impact of water-charging policy.’   The Connacht Vice-President added, ‘The simple fact is that farmers are price takers in the market place who do not have the opportunity to recoup any of these excessive charges from the market place. Farmers support the conservation of water, but at a time when our input costs have risen by over 30% in the last seven years, farmers cannot remain viable while paying up to almost €6.00 per thousand gallons for water.’   These sentiments were echoed by Sligo County Chairman Billy Somerville who said, ‘It is nonsensical to impose such excessive water charges on the farming community. The most recent earnings data available estimates that farmer’s incomes are 37% of the average public sector wage and 55% of the average industrial wage.’