TALLINN – Members of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce met with Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas on Thursday to discuss the extent of damage caused by the long drought and possible crisis aid for the sector.
Ants Noot, chairman of the management board of the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, said, describing the prevailing situation in the sector, that as a result of the dryness of the last few weeks, crop losses are unavoidable this year.
"While the situation is a bit different from region to region, it is very likely everyone will be affected," Noot said.
He added that by now the drought is a pan-European problem and possible crop losses have been estimated to be as high as 50-80 percent in southern countries.
"The situation in the agricultural sector has become quite tense and there are a number of acute issues that await resolution. In addition, milk prices that are falling, the volatility of input prices, recent night frosts, and so on. The good news is that the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council has in principle decided to provide crisis aid. Negotiations regarding conditions will definitely take time, but we will do our best on behalf of the chamber so that our entrepreneurs are not left out," Noot said.
Jaak Laanemets, member of the supervisory board of the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, said after the meeting that the minister's invitation to a roundtable meeting came at just the right moment, as the farmers' representatives also wanted a meeting to discuss the situation caused by the drought.
"The purpose of the meeting was to give the minister a view of the situation from within the sector and to look for ways to get support from the state. Today, we have not yet adopted concrete promises and decisions, but the discussion topics have been put on the table and we are happy about that," Laanemets said.
He added that the difficult weather conditions raise the question of whether the farmer has done everything they can to mitigate the risks caused by the drought.
"The ability to anticipate risks and take the necessary steps to prevent them is a topic that is constantly on the farmer's mind, waiting to be solved every day," he said. "It's good if state aid comes when all other measures have been used. That way we can be sure that there will be enough high-quality domestic food at an affordable price for everyone in the fall."
It was recognized at the meeting that it is necessary to establish an emergency situation resulting from weather conditions, so that emergency measures can be taken to help the agricultural sector survive in a very difficult situation.
The Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce is the largest umbrella organization that unites agricultural, food sector and rural entrepreneurs, while private forest owners and hunters' sub-organizations are also members of the chamber. In total, the chamber has almost 20,000 members.