Agriculture Minister: no reason to declare dairy sector emergency

Minister of Agriculture Didzis Šmits (United List) does not see a reason for announcing a state of emergency in the dairy sector, as farmers have requested, but hopes for additional European Union (EU) support for the sector, as well as plans a special program for restructuring dairy farmers' activities to other agricultural sectors, LSM reports on June 6.

Šmits explained to the government on Tuesday, June 6, that Latvia is “one of the weaker stages” in EU milk production. Milk purchase prices in Latvia are falling first, followed by Lithuania, because both markets are linked. However, current trends show that dairy procurement prices are now starting to fall in other EU countries, the Minister pointed out, stressing that in Latvia the trend started three months earlier.

The dairy sector is still facing serious difficulties because milk procurement prices are not in line with the market situation, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement to the media. The overall outlook for the sector remains unfavorable.

Currently, the average purchase price in Latvia is 34 cents per liter, but the price range is very wide – the lowest price is 24 cents and the highest is 48 cents, the Minister said

The Minister told the government that the fluctuation in milk prices was not an emergency situation but essentially “traditional market ups and downs”, and Latvian dairy farmers “were the first in the European trend”.

“I understand the thought and concern, but there is no legal or fundamental basis for announcing an emergency,” Šmits said.

He recalled that dairy farmers were given €2.45 million for breeding and negotiations with the European Commission would continue

In order to further support farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture plans to set up an aid program for restructuring operations so that entrepreneurs can move to another sector. The ministry also plans to present proposals to the government to boost the competitiveness of dairy cooperatives by September.


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