Latvian farmers say pupils should get local food in meal packages

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“Farmers Saeima” association representative Juris Lazdiņš told Latvian Television December 16 that food packages distributed to pupils during state of emergency should consist of local products.

Currently, pupils who are forced to learn remotely and also those at schools receive packed meals from municipalities.

Lazdiņš said that the content of food packages is currently very different from school to school.

"There are both well-composed packages and not so great, but we conceptually believe that there should be products from Latvian farmers and producers.

Why? There is a rather contradictory situation: on the one hand, the government takes loans to mitigate COVID-19's influence in the sectors, there is aid, subsidized jobs. On the other hand, when buying Polish, Russian, Estonian, Lithuanian products for  these packages, we contribute to these countries' businesses, we encourage the preservation of other countries' jobs," said Lazdiņš.

He explained that Latvian farmers are able to produce all food products needed for internal consumption. "As much as is needed in these packages, we are able to provide. We believe that there should be only Latvian products."

This is also discussed by the Ministry of Agriculture. However, the content of food packages are the responsibility of municipalities.

“Farmers Saeima” has spoken about this matter both with the Latvian Association of Local Governments and individually with local governments. However, the negotiations have failed so far.

Arguments of municipalities are that there are regulatory requirements to choose the cheapest offer. 

Lazdiņš said that the regulatory framework should be changed so that the lower price would not be a determining criterion. “I suppose we have no other choice than to write and insist that it is finally time that we evaluated our local businesses, local people,” the head of the association said.

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