Estonian farmers decide on protest

  • 2000-11-30
TALLINN (BNS) - A rural-life crisis committee that met in Tartu on Nov. 28 decided to stage a demonstration of farmers and fishermen on Toompea, the seat of the government, on Dec. 13 to demand from the gov-ernment subsidies in the amount promised earlier.

"We decided that a joint action of farmers and fishermen will take place on Toompea at 1 p.m. on Dec. 13," deputy head of the committee Toomas Paur told the Baltic News Service.

Paur said the gov-ernment has not kept its earlier promise to allocate the farming sector subsidies in the sum of 639 million kroons ($34.82 million) for next year.

The draft state budget for 2001, including amendments, at present sets aside 323.57 million kroons in farming subsidies, or 315 million kroons less than originally promised, he stated.

"The draft budget at first included subsidies of 215 million kroons," Paur said. "Money's been added little by little, but a promise is a promise."

He said farmers aren't prepared to accept the government's explanation that the actual subsidy sum stands at roughly 741 million kroons, as this comes from the addition of money from the European Union's SAPARD program and other sources.

The demonstration will be canceled if the government raises the sum of subsidies to the agreed-upon level prior to Dec. 13, Paur said.

The crisis committee expects around 4,000-5,000 farmers and fishermen to take part in the protest. The demonstration will in any case be peaceful and there will be no dung-carting as was under consideration at the committee's previous meeting at the start of this month, Paur added.