Farmers might continue protests in Rīga next week

Latvian farmers are considering carrying protests over to the capital city Rīga next week. Farmers met with Prime Minister Evika Siliņa (New Unity) on Wednesday, February 7, and noted that this was a good first step towards achieving solutions. 

Participants of the farmers' protest on Monday have stated various demands – to reduce red tape, reduce value-added tax on fruit and vegetables, expand support programs, and others.

The organization “Farmers' Saeima”, which is the main organizer of the protest campaign, said after Wednesday's conversation with the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister that such a meeting is a good first step in resolving issues. However, it cannot be ruled out that farmers could come to Rīga on Monday.

"There is still work to be done, we still have two meetings tomorrow on this [requirements]. Consequently, Thursday evening or Friday by noon, we will give a clear message – whether we will be in Riga or not on Monday,” said Juris Lazdiņš, Chairman of the Farmers' Saeima.

Not all farmers agree. For example, another major industry organization, the Agricultural Organisation Cooperation Council (LOSP), said: “A fight only provokes a fight. It is always necessary to start with dialogue. And at the moment, that dialogue is continuing and I think we are moving in the right direction,“ said Dzintra Lejniece, a Member of the LOSP board.

It was the inconsistencies of opinion within the industry itself that the Prime Minister called one of the most difficult aspects. She explained that, as there are issues that require action at the European Union level as well, first of all, there is a need to compromise locally.

“I think it's just understandable that poultry farmers talk about one thing, dairy producers maybe about something else, and plant producers or growers about something else. So, of course, I admit that it is sometimes not simple for the government to understand what to bring to Europe from all these positions. I also said today, concluding the discussion, that if it is clear to me what you want me to carry, and if we can agree on it, I am ready to represent it as well,” Siliņa said.

One of the farmers' demands, which has been agreed among themselves, is the ban on imports and exports of grain from Russia and Belarus. The Saeima could decide on this in the near future. But transit will still be maintained, government representatives confirmed on Wednesday after meeting with farmers as well. They argued that banning it would be unlawful from the point of view of European law.


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