Farmers say aid for last year's drought is meager

Last week, livestock farms finally received long-awaited compensations for both the sharp drop in milk prices in the previous winter and the extreme drought that prevented preparing animal feed. Aid has been paid for two-thirds of registered animals. However, according to the Latvian Television broadcast De Facto of January 29, the aid equals to a half a roll of hay per bovine animal.

In 2022, negotiations started between Member States at the European Union level on emergency aid to overcome the difficulties in the dairy sector: the price of milk fell sharply, and feed prices rose. Under seven million euros were allocated to Latvia from the European budget.

Last year, in mid-June, when the meadows are usually lush, in many places in Latvia they resembled a sun-burned lawn. There was no hay to collect for the coming winter.

Frosts followed, then extreme drought, and flooding in the autumn. Specialists calculated optimal support. Discussions on how to internally distribute the money continued for the rest of the autumn. Meanwhile, farms were looking for their own solutions to survive.

“We calculated as far as we could, we eliminated the less productive cows, non-productive animals, and bulls already in the autumn period. And then right now we're buying food. Cows also have straw in their ration, so more feed additives need to be put on so they have a complete feed and that they continue to produce quality milk, [..],” said Agnese Celova, Board Member of the farm “Dižglābas”

€3.8 million was allocated from European money to the livestock sector, while the rest went to fruit farmers to cover the damage caused by frost. The payment was also allowed to be supplemented by state budget money, but this was rejected by the previous government.

In November, the Cabinet of Ministers supported the measures. And now, in the third week of January, the aid has finally been paid out. Per cow, or per unit of cattle (for example, seven sheep), the aid was €19. Right now, one hay roll costs twice as much.

“That aid is very, very small, and maybe maybe the biggest pain is that you don't have to promise if you can't do it. After all, we each do our jobs. [.]) We produce and are only paid for quality produce. If we produce poor quality, we get less. So why can an official count poorly and get a full salary?!" says Agnese Celova.

In Facebook's “Farming” discussion group, there have been plenty of farmers expressing their astonishment and frustration at what the support ultimately turned out to be.

The Ministry explains that the amount of aid of EUR 19 instead of the expected EUR 87 per cattle was related to the high demand. “The rate of aid shall be calculated by dividing the available funding by the eligible holdings' livestock units and thus the rate of aid shall be obtained. In addition, it is stipulated that the aid rate may not exceed EUR 87.70 per livestock unit and, from there, there has obviously been an understanding that the aid could amount to EUR 87.”

“If we hadn't heeded those recommendations, then I would argue that there would be very few recipients, so to speak. [..] We would certainly receive reprimands in both cases,“ Agriculture Minister Armands Krauze told LTV.

 More than five thousand farmers applied for aid, and 4,350 received it.

Deputy Director of Rural Support Service Indulis Āboliņš said: “From the start, those rules were stricter and then became more and more flexible over time so more can qualify. Of course, money doesn't change from that, and it just means that the amount we receive falls, falls, falls, and falls, and that's how we've got to €19. ”

Given that losses caused by specific weather conditions are likely to occur more frequently, the Minister for Agriculture encourages consideration of the creation of a special fund:

“To those risks that are not insured by insurers [..] we start work on setting up a risk fund where, of course, farmers themselves should also pay into, this is going to be a discussion and here farmers have to agree. But very many European countries have such risk funds in place.”

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important