TALLINN - Recipients of the Estonian Farmer of the Year award call for rapid solutions for the agricultural sector in a statement to the president, parliament and government in order to ensure uninterrupted food production.
The coronavirus outbreak has changed ordinary processes in the sector, the agricultural producers said. A shortage of domestic workers has lasted for years in Estonian agriculture, which is why producers have had to hire workers from abroad.
"A lot of the work is done by people from Ukraine. Workers from third states can only remain here for a fixed term and in order to do so, they need a work permit. Amid the spread of the virus, national borders have been closed and handling of permits halted, as a result of which, many agricultural businesses have reached a critical point in terms of whether or not they can continue production," the farmers said.
In order for farmers to be able continue their production, the government must make rapid decisions that support the confidence of producers with regard to both long and short-term perspective and alleviate the crisis of foreign workforce in the sector, they said.
"Workers are specialists in their field and they cannot be replaced by just any volunteer from the street. Naturally, we are grateful to all people who sympathize with farmers and have offered their help, but we need to realize that replacing thousands of pairs of hands overnight is simply not possible," the farmers' statement reads.