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Government to address farmers' fuel problem

  • 2000-09-28
TALLINN (BNS) - At Prime Minister Mart Laar's recommendation, the government will set up a working group with representatives from the farmers' unions to discuss making cheap special-purpose diesel fuel available to farmers.

The working group must urgently make proposals to the government for revision of the structure of agricultural subsidies and improvement of the sale of special-purpose diesel fuel in order to ensure completion of fall work in agricultural production, a government spokesman said.

The decision to set up the working group comes from Laar and Agriculture Minister Ivari Padar, who met with representatives of farmers and agricultural producers Sept. 22. The government wanted to hear the first proposals of the working group on Sept. 26.

Laar told the meeting that the government has slowed down the rise in the fuel excise and the hike in fuel prices, brought on by the falling euro and decreasing world oil supply.

Angry at rising fuel prices, farmers want to follow the example of their European colleagues and block roads with tractors and combine harvesters if the government does not help them overcome the crisis.

In an appeal that reached Parliament, the government and the prime minister via the Farmers' Central Union, Voru County farmers said that it has become impossible to continue production as fuel prices have nearly doubled within a year. At the farmers' demand, the government must find money immediately to compensate for the excise of diesel fuel.

The rural life crisis committee said on Sept. 20 that this year grain producers suffered a loss of up to 270 million kroons ($14.7 million) as a result of a higher excise tax alone.

On the basis of different analyses, grain producers lost somewhere between 123 million and 270 million kroons, considering this year's average yield per hectare and the average price of fuel of 6.5 to 7 kroons a liter, Urmas Laht, a member of the crisis committee said.