The Central Union of Estonian Farmers said there are 300-400 milk producers ready to call it quits due to low raw milk prices.
Rural Affairs Minister Urmas Kruuse, who met dairy farmers in Järva County on Tuesday, said producers, processors and retailers should divide the income more equally.
The union said that besides cooperation with other components of the industry, dairy farms should focus on improving productivity. “I am under no illusion that all this can be achieved in a day. But we can definitely improve the current situation,” union president Juhan Särgava said.
Kruuse said emergency aid to farmers will be paid out this year. In his opinion, looking at the profits made by retailers and the dairy industry, famers are not being paid a fair price.
One such company facing a very uncertain future is Sargvere agriculture co-operative, which is turning a loss of 27,000 euros each month. Company head Toomas Uusmaa said the company has 40 employees, 2,000 hectares of farmland and a dairy herd of 1,300.
Uusmaa said he has nearly depleted all reserves and will now have to consider closing his business.
Väätsa Agro major shareholder Joakim Helenius said the problem is that Estonia is a very efficient raw milk producer and has to export a great deal, as the domestic market is small. He said the long-term solution is to build up the processing industry in Estonia.
Helenius added that such an industry should belong to the farmers, a move which should help off-set risks.
Editor: J.M. Laats