TALLINN – During a meeting with representatives of agricultural and environmental organizations in Tallinn on Monday, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski hailed the contribution of Estonia's agricultural and food sector to ensuring Europe's food security and highlighted the environmental friendliness of the farm sector in Estonia.
Wojciechowski met with representatives of the sector to discuss the situation of the agricultural and food sector in the light of the war in Ukraine and the preparation of the new period of the EU's common agricultural policy, the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce said in a press release.
"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also caused major challenges for the agricultural sector, with farmers and food producers facing a very precarious situation due to soaring production costs. While the increase in production costs has been accompanied by an increase in the price of agricultural produce in some sectors, the risks for farmers have increased enormously. In this light, we welcome the European Commission's aid package to alleviate the situation, although the size of the package is clearly too small," said Roomet Sormus, chairman of the board of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce.
Sormus said we need to subject the additional administrative burdens and new environmental obligations to be imposed on farmers, for example, as part of the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive or the Plant Protection Products Regulation, to a very critical scrutiny.
"The situation and the contributions made so far by the member states must be taken into account in achieving the objectives of the farm-to-plate strategy. We are proud that Estonia is among the best in the European Union in terms of low use of plant protection products, fertilizers and antimicrobials and a high share of organic farming -- this must be taken into account when setting new obligations," he said.
The amount of plant protection products placed on the market in Estonia per hectare of agricultural land is well below the EU average. According to Eurostat, Estonia is among the five countries with the least use of plant protection products in the EU. For example, the amount of plant protection products placed on the market per hectare of agricultural land is nearly seven times lower here than in the Netherlands, more than four times lower than in Spain and less than half of the amount placed on the market in Poland.
In light of the potentially high administrative burden and additional costs, the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce is also very concerned about the European Commission's recent proposal for a draft directive on industrial emissions, which seeks to extend the environmental permit requirement to cattle farming and to significantly lower the threshold for the number of cattle, pigs and poultry farms subject to the permit requirement.
The European commissioner for agriculture strongly supported the Chamber of Agriculture's proposal that the regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products, to be published in the coming months, must find an honest solution for member states when setting targets for reducing the amounts of plant protection products used and take into account the current level of use.
Sormus also expressed hope that the European Commission would soon find common ground with Estonia to approve the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan 2023-2027.
"Farmers need enough time to prepare and adapt to the new requirements. In the opinion of the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, the new plan is rather well in balance given the very limited budgetary possibilities, but we are very concerned that income support for farmers will be drastically reduced next year. In the current difficult security situation, we see this as a very serious threat to the livelihoods of our farmers and the food security, but also to the achievement of environmental goals," the head of the Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce emphasized.