Rural Affairs Committee meets to discuss mitigating of drought damages

Dried-out field.
Dried-out field. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The Rural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu met with representatives of agricultural organisations at the Estonian Crop Research Institute in Jõgeva on Monday to discuss possible solutions to the problems being caused by the lasting drought.

The committee found that the Rural Development Foundation (MES) should apply for €20 million from the state budget that would serve as a security for farmers in case of possible loan claims by banks, according to a Riigikogu press release. They also found that the earlier payment of subsidies to farmers should be discussed with the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA).

"Finding resources for the MES so that they can grant additional loans to farmers would certainly be the most important solution by the state," said committee chairman Aivar Kokk (Pro Patria), adding that PRIA subsidies are typically paid out in December, but this year, farmers would need them in September already.

According to deputy committee chairman Urmas Kruuse (Reform), farmers are considering selling their cattle because there is not enough fodder for the animals, they do not have sufficient circulating capital, and crop yield has been considerably lower than in previous years. "This autumn, it will be necessary to discuss in the Riigikogu whether, other than allocating additional resources, it would also be possible to change anything in our legislative space," Kruuse said.

Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm (Centre) said in his report that, depending on the region, 30-70% of this year's summer crops could fail. According to the minister, the European Commission is not planning extraordinary support payments at the moment. In Tamm's opinion, however, it would possible to increase the capital and reserves of the MES, and use it to grant operating loans to the farmers.

The Rural Affairs Committee will meet in Jõgeva again on 14 August to discuss whether resources have been found for increasing the MES' capital and reserves and whether PRIA is prepared to make payments to the farmers earlier.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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