Farmers fear they may not be allowed to claim for financial support which helps them stay competitive in the European Union's market place after money was not allocated for them in budget negotiations.
The Chamber of Commerce estimates that farmers need approximately €15.3 million of funding, which is known as transitional support and is part of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, Aktuaalne kaamera reported.
Transitional support for farmers has been available from 2014 until 2020. During the previous Reform-led government farmers did not receive the funds. But when the Centre Party took power in 2016 the government gave farmers the support allowed.
Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, told AK: "We have understood and received signals that it [the money] is not there. We hope that today will bring about change, as it is one of the central pledges of the government to provide transitional support and to ensure a level playing field for Estonian producers in the EU market."
The Ministry of Rural Affairs told "AK" that Minister Mart Järvik (EKRE) did not have time on Thursday to clarify whether money will be found in the budget to pay for the grant.
Next year Estonia's level of funding will reach two-thirds of the EU average, while Estonia's production costs will be one-third higher than the EU average. The absence of transitional support would affect the most important agricultural sectors such as crop growers, dairy, beef, and sheep farmers.
Tõnu Post, head of Kõljala Agricultural and Farmer of the Year 2013, said that the transitional support is important.
"It should now be covered at the expense of something else, which means that significant investments are missed or postponed," the Post said. He also said wages need to be increased.
Head of Pajusi ABF and Farmer of the Year 2016, Lembit Paal, said that the export price per tonne of milk has already fallen below €300.
"In the domestic market, it's just over €300, which really means we're selling milk at cost. The cereal market is booming. We are waiting for Brexit, which will surely bring confusion across Europe. And in a situation where our production costs are constantly rising, taking important financial support from farmers - it makes me very angry," said Paal.
Editor: Helen Wright