More help demanded for struggling dairy farmers

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs met with Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Monday in Brussels in her latest effort to win support for Latvian dairy farmers struggling to cope with the disappearance of the Russian market as a result of a sanctions war between the European Union and Russian Federation.  

"As the result of Russia's sanctions, our milk producers have lost an important export market - dairy exports to Russia have declined by 40%," said Straujuma.

According to Straujuma the dairy sector accounts for 25% of the Latvian agricultural sector and, in 2013, 60% of milk was exported. Meanwhile purchase prices for milk have fallen by 20% compared to July 2014.

The dairy sector has lost €44m so far this year according to the Agriculture Ministry. 

An official release said: "The Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture emphasized - in view of €200 million invested in the development of the dairy sector from 2007 to 2013, it would be important not to lose this contribution due to current difficulties."

“The Latvian government has, for its part, just granted the Latvian farmers €7.6 million... Over the last year, our manufacturers have begun to acquire 18 new markets... however, this process is not fast.

In what it described as a "transitional period," EC support measures should be "very substantial," said Straujuma. 

“Commissioner Phil Hogan expressed his understanding of the fact that the situation in the Latvian dairy sector is more complex than in other Member States of the European Union, which have been adversely affected by Russia's sanctions and decline of purchase price for milk following the abolition of the quota system. The Commissioner for Agriculture confirmed that the European Commission will prepare a proposal in support to the Latvian dairy industry until the extraordinary meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 7 September,“ Duklavs said after the meeting.

For his part, Hogan said: “This situation is grave. I would like to assure you that the EC will examine all possible support measures within the next two weeks”.

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Economy
Economy