Taxpayers can't cover total cost of agriculture crisis, says PM
Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said the state has given farmers 32 million euros in emergency funds, adding that taxpayers cannot cover the total cost of the problems facing the sector.
“[...] it is not possible for the taxpayer to compensate lost profits,” Rõivas said, after farmers held a protest in front of the Parliament building earlier in the week.
He said some sections of agriculture earned great profits last year, adding that there is not enough means to repeat those profits from state coffers.
EU has decided to hand Estonian farmers 7.5 million euros, with Rõivas saying that figure is six times higher than Estonia could have received, when taking its size into consideration.
He added that a further 25 million euros has been allocated, and the state is looking for more possibilities.
Dairy farmers will receive a total of 6.9 million euros to compensate for the import ban by Russia. The rest of the 32 millions will be spent on pig farmers, including beefing up bio-safety, buying canned pork and cleaning up the consequences of the African Swine Flu outbreak.
Rõivas said the state is planning to invest in a foundation, which will, in the future, give cheap loans to farmers during tough times.
Farmers took 101 tractors from all over Estonia to Toompea on Monday to protest the state's lack of aid to them.
Roomet Sõrmus, the head of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, said the sanctions imposed by Russia on Estonian dairy and pork products, coupled with the spread of the African Swine Fever, have left the industry in a deep crisis. Farmers say the state is allowed by EU law to give them additional subsidies, on top of EU funding. Farmers in other Baltic states and Finland receive such top-ups.