Estonian government declares emergency situation in agriculture sector

Farming in Estonia
Farming in Estonia Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The government on Thursday announced an emergency situation in the agriculture sector in response to adverse weather conditions experienced in Estonia in recent years.

The declaration of an emergency situation (Estonian: Eriolukord, a legally-defined term) will allow businesses operating in the sector to deal more easily with the fulfillment of various obligations and contracts, it is reported.

Speaking at Thursday's regular government press conference, Health Minister Riina Sikkut (SDE) said that: "The government decided that the criteria are such that we can indeed declare that there have been adverse weather conditions."

These adverse conditions refer to low rainfall and higher-than-average temperatures, experienced in recent years.

While July this year has seen rainfall, the spring months were both cold and particularly dry.

Minister Sikkut proposed declaring the emergency situation jointly with Regional Affairs Minister Madis Kallas (SDE), following an appeal from agriculture groups.

The emergency situation will not entail support measures, but will allow entrepreneurs to more easily deal with, for example, obligations to state agency the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) or in relation to unfavorable weather conditions components of insurance policies, Sikkut added.

"In a similar way, organic producers now have the opportunity to use conventional feed - all this is possible for farmers," Sikkut went on.

The combined spring cold and drought have created a serious situation which threatens this year's harvest, farming organizations say.

The rainfall of recent weeks has come to late to alleviate this situation, they add – crops' growth phases have already passed, or in some cases seeds did not sprout in the first place.

An emergency situation was called during the Covid pandemic of 2020-2021. It is of less severity than a state of emergency (Estonian: Erakorraline Seisukord).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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