The Central Union of Estonian Farmers recruited six replacement workers for crop growing companies in three weeks. However, the demand for replacement workers is much higher.
In April, the government approved the Minister of Rural Affairs' proposal to make it possible for crop producers to hire state-supported replacement workers.
The budget was increased by €500,000 and hiring new replacement workers started on May 13.
Under some conditions, the replacement worker can be recruited instead of the Ukrainian workforce but the seasonal employees for the strawberry growers can't be replaced with replacement workers.
The Central Union of Farmers has 35 replacement workers that previously, animal farmers have been able to employ.
"The Farmers' union has an agreement with more than 400 livestock area producers, half of them use the opportunity every year," the Executive Chief of the Farmers' union, Kerli Ats, said.
The demand for replacement workers in crop growing this year is still being determined by the Farmers' Union.
Ats said recruitment of replacement employees will continue as demand may increase in the second half of the summer as it is likely there will be shortage of agricultural workers as seasonal short-term workers, mostly from Ukraine, cannot reenter the country.
Farmers say they do not have enough seasonal workers and produce will rot in the fields if it cannot be picked. Currently, strawberry farmers are experiencing a shortage of labor as the harvest approaches.
The government has told them to hire Estonians instead of foreign workers as unemployment is increasing due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
Editor: Roberta Vaino