‘Irish Water can’t just shrug its shoulders and say they can’t supply the water we need to look after our animals’
Onus on Irish Water to come up with feasible supply options - farmers
President of ICMSA and dairy farmer Pat McCormack has said that onus to come up with feasible supply options is squarely on Irish Water.
It comes as Irish Water warned that further water restrictions are likely to affect other parts of the country.
It also said the country is now in a crisis situation as it battles to conserve water during the hot weather.
The President of ICMSA confirmed that for dairy farmers the water shortage situation was most acute in the south east - specifically Kilkenny, Wicklow and parts of Laois, but Pat McCormack said that concerns were mounting right across the country.
“The worry levels are going up as quickly as the thermometer levels and we’re getting engaged with the most pressing problems in the most press locations.
“In fairness to them, we have been contacted by Irish Water who acknowledged our demand that they go past just issuing information via local radio or their websites and start contacting their individual farmer-customers and letting them know what the situation is.
“We think that’s minimum service that a dairy farmer paying €5000 -odd per annum is entitled to and Irish Water have supplied us with contact details for their senior personnel on the ground and ICMSA will be going back to them with our contacts, we’re happy to mediate and spread the word amongst farmers in any given area about what’s going to happen and when.
“ICMSA will absolutely not accept a situation where the agency directly charged with providing water – for which farmers pay and have always paid – just shrugs its shoulders and says they can’t supply the water that we need to look after our animals - the welfare of which is an obligation that farmers take very, very seriously”, said Mr McCormack.
According to the IFA, Irish Water has agreed to accommodate farmers impacted by reduced water supply from public water sources, in order to ensure they have sufficient water for animals and for other needs on the farm.
“We are dealing with a once in a generation weather event which is posing really difficult challenges for some farmers,” IFA President Joe Healy said.
Over 130,000 farmers and rural households source their water from private wells or group water Schemes and are, therefore, not affected by national restrictions.
However, farmers experiencing water supply shortages due to any restrictions should contact Irish Water which has assured IFA it will make arrangements to ensure adequate supply.
IFA President Joe Healy said the current dry weather is causing real difficulties for farmers who rely on rainfall for grass and crop growth.
“For livestock farmers, soil moisture and high temperatures are impacting on grass growth rates. Farmers are using fodder supplies to feed animals, but the worry now is how quickly growth will resume and whether farmers will be able to save enough silage and hay for the winter ahead, particularly as reserves were well depleted during the extended poor weather conditions earlier this year.”
Joe Healy has urged farmers to take early action to manage the situation and to take note of Teagasc advice for feeding in the drought conditions.
For tillage and vegetable farmers, the weather conditions at this critical period will impact on yields which will compound the income crisis they are already facing.
“Crop losses look inevitable with growers facing a situation where winter crops in the ground are stressed, and spring crops planted about eight weeks ago have not had any rain since.
“The continuing trend of low prices on the one side and increasing input prices on the other is placing cereal and vegetable production in this country under threat. All stakeholders will have to sit up and take note of the difficulties farmers are facing and realise that they must work with their growers to sustain them through this difficult period.”
The IFA President said meat factories and retailers must act responsibly at this difficult time and not put undue downward pressure on prices.