Farmers demand cut in water charges
FARMERS are demanding a cut in the water charges they pay because of economies of scale in the rollout of charges to all households in the country.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) said farmers had already been paying very high water charges for years as commercial users.
But the creation of Irish Water and the expansion of charges to all households "will result in economies of scale, which must lead to a reduction in the water charges being imposed on farm families".
IFA president Eddie Downey said farmers with fragmented land holdings must no longer be charged multiple standing charges for different meters, and there must be just one standing charge per family.
He also warned that rural broadband must be improved to allow farmers do their work.
"Nowadays the computer and the smartphone is as important to a farmer as his toolbox," he said.
At the launch of their manifesto of demands for European and local elections, the IFA called on candidates to protect EU farm grants, resist pressure to allow more meat imports and improve local services.
The IFA also demanded action to allow more genetically modified (GM) animal feed into Europe, as the slow licensing process meant they were at a huge disadvantage compared with farmers elsewhere.
GM soya was a vital source of protein for animal feed, but it took years to get new varieties approved in the EU, meaning farmers here had to pay more for the limited supplies of older, less cost-efficient types of feed, he said.
The IFA also called on Irish MEPs and candidates to resist EU pressure to do a trade deal that would open up a flood of meat imports from countries such as Brazil and Uruguay.
The IFA held the first of four public meetings with election candidates in Tuam last night with another in Kilkenny tonight.