Farmers Call for Restoring Top-Up Subsidies as Russian Sanctions Make Milk Prices Plummet
Juhan Särgava, president of the Central Union of Estonian Farmers, told ERR's Vikerraadio that if in June 2014 one ton of milk sold for 400 euros, Russia's import ban now leaves it around 210-250 euros.
"The consequences [of the Russian sanctions in July] are only now becoming apparent. We will get a little glimmer of hope in December when the subsidies are due but this money was of course meant to cover the expenses of a whole year. Now what was planned to for the first half of 2015 will be spent on clearing outstanding debts in December," he said.
He added that the government should once more consider reinstating the so-called top-up subsidies for local farmers, in addition to the current EU grants.
Särgava said that top-up subsidies would function as a regional investment program. "It is a financial measure with which to help small businesses in the rural areas. It could cover down payments for equipment or employees' wages. It is an investment of national importance and not a way to help the poor."