Farmers want handouts to compensate for bad weather

Because of a poor growing season and low market prices, farmers are demanding handouts worth €30 million from government.

The Farmers' Saeima, the main farming association, is calling on the government to allocate an additional €30 million on top of funds it is already planning to distribute to farmers next year, the organization's chairman Juris Lazdins told the LETA news agency September 30.

Lazdins said subsidies are necessary so farmers could remain competitive and to bring the amount of support payments closer to the EU average of €266 per hectare from the current Latvian level of  €144 per hectare, said Lazdins.

According to Farmers Saeima's estimates, the total grain harvest this year will be some 20 percent to 30 percent lower than in 2015, while grain prices at commodity exchanges have reduced around 20 percent.

As a result, farms' income from grain this year will be at least 20 percent lower than in 2015 and at least 40 percent lower than in 2014, according to current estimates.

According to Lazdins, members of Farmers' Saeima had a meeting with Agriculture Mininster Janis Duklavs (Greens and Farmers Union party) earlier this week to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

"The minister responded to our questions, and some of the support mechanisms proposed will be implemented in the near future. As for matters which concern the state budget, we will have to go to Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola. We are planning to organize this meeting in the near future to convince them that farmers need this support, taking into consideration the dramatic situation this year," said Lazdins.

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