Associations, Ministry at Odds Over Food Industry Situation
Dairy Association head Jaanus Murakas said the fact that the price of milk has dropped to 25 cents per liter shows the industry is in a crisis, while Agriculture Minister Ivari Padar said work is being done to find financial support and new markets, but the price drop is not a crisis.
Murakas told ETV that Latvia will compensate its dairy industry with 6.5 million euros this year, but Estonia has been silent on financial support. Lithuania has asked the EU for a green light to increase state subsidies to its dairy farmers.
Valdur Noormägi, head of an association of fisheries, an industry also hit hard by a food import ban that Russia began last month, said additional state aid to the industry should already come from the 2014 state budget, and when the industry rebounds, in 2015 or 2016, the money will come back to the state. “The fishing period begins in 2014 and I can not tell fishermen that we should go to see next year or the year after that,” he said.
Padar said the low milk prices have been in effect for a few days and it is no reason to talk of a crisis. He said Estonia may yet find additional means to support the food industry.