Estonia: Rural Affairs Ministry drafts wide-scale farmer support package

Strawberry growers in Estonia are still awaiting a decision regarding loss compensation for their reduced yield this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic/ However, the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce (EPKK) has now issued a statement saying that in addition to strawberries, potatoes and livestock farming also suffered.

Last week, representatives of the agricultural sector congregated at the Ministry of Rural Affairs after the Ministry had put together a clearer view on how the crisis affected strawberry growers, a long saga dating back to late-May when foreign labor was barred from entering the country. The exact sums of compensation were not discussed at the time, however.

Still, the EPKK raised a whole other topic at the meeting of agricultural minds. Roomet Sõrmus, head of the EPKK, said: "This coronavirus crisis has affected the entire agricultural sector in one way or another. Above all, the livestock sector and horticulture sector. And it is actually essential here that the state come out with a support package to alleviate their COVID-19 problems."

Raivo Külasepp, head of the Estonian Horticultural Association, agreed: "If the price of cabbage in 2019 was €0.34 per kg, today it is €0.21. Let us take a look at carrots as well - the drop here is from €0.27 to €0.22. At the same time, beats have gone from €0.24 last year to €0.12 now. That is fifty percent."

Rural Affairs ministry's deputy chancellor Marko Gorban said the ministry is indeed now assessing the situation of the whole agricultural sector. He acknowledged that since the situation for each strawberry grower is different, it is not easy creating a common support model. He referred to the recently created support measure for food producers as an example.

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