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Krusā cietušie zemnieki vēl cer uz valsts atbalstu

Grant program planned to offset August storm damages

The Ministry of Agriculture plans to build a grant program to help small farmers recover from the devastating storm on August 7, Latvian Television reported Sunday, December 17.

Dozens of farmers in Zemgale have been on the verge of bankruptcy after the storm on August 7 and will not be able to recover on their own. After a November meeting with state officials, farmers approached the agriculture minister with a letter. 

Several support programs are already available to farmers affected by the storm on August 7, including the Rural support Service's program to renovate buildings ravaged by the storm, which has even been given additional funding this week, increasing the total amount of funds available from €3 million to €4 million. Similarly, the farmers have access to “Altum” current assets loans, which allow them to cover outstanding liabilities for 2023.

Owner of the farm “Ciedras,” Artis Lillais, head of the hail-stricken farmers initiative group, noted: "The loans are good as such, but to a certain extent because here individual farms have a situation where the loan would make their situation worse. They need a grant, which is irreturnable financial help."

Such grants are needed, for example, for small farmers who lost nearly all their crops in the disaster and need support right now to survive until next season. They won't be able to return the loan even at reduced rates.

After the last negotiations, officials in charge of agricultural policy have agreed, even in part, with the arguments that the previous support measures have passed some farmers by. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture intends to approach the Ministry of Finance to allocate funding for such a grant program from contingency funds in the newly adopted budget for next year.

According to farmers' estimates, the necessary amount could be several million, so discussions are still expected here. Agriculture Minister Armands Krauze (Union of Greens and Farmers) has also encouraged the creation of a special fund in the future to compensate for the damage caused by natural disasters.

To apply for existing aid, supporting information such as photo or video proving the damage caused by the storm on August 7 must be submitted. Further information on the application is available on the website of the Rural Support Service.

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