Farmers Urge Government Support for Smaller Companies, Not Big Agro
Farmers meeting at the annual Jäneda congress over the weekend criticized the state's rural development plan for the 2014-2020 period as putting big farming first.
Featuring a forum with an open microphone, the congress's tone was summed up by Kaul Nurm, director general of the Central Association of Farmers, in remarks to ETV.
He said despite impressions to the contrary, young people are interested in farming, often drawn to horticulture with its lower startup costs and potential for high yields at higher scales.
Nurm said that while EU investments have modernized farming, the rural development plan for the EU's new financing period for 2014-2020 put agribusiness first.
The association said the larger companies should make do without investment support, adding that direct assistance under CAP should be enough for them.
"They receive so much from direct assistance that they can use that amount for investments. Farms don't have so many direct subsidies and the rural development plan should support [smaller] farms. Such a balance between the two main bastions of agriculture in Estonia must be achieved. Otherwise I will not be talking so optimistically to you here seven years from now."
Responding to the congress's comments, Parliament's Rural Affairs Committee chairman Kalvi Kõva said that the plan was drafted in consideration of interest groups and compromises.
"We hear opinions across the whole range, some feeling that it is tilted toward big producers while big producers feel that more should be invested into our food production and development of large companies," he told ETV, emphasizing that the plan was the product of a year of what he characterized as equitable work.