Agriculture sector lost more than EUR 400m this year, says Ministry

Estimated economic losses in the agricultural sector this year due to drought, an adverse market situation and natural disasters amount to 412 million euros, concluded the Ministry of Agriculture (ZM) at a government meeting September 12. 

The most severe situation has been observed in livestock farms, fruit growing, grain and potato farms, which should receive emergency support from the European Union (EU), according to a report on the situation, which was presented at the outgoing government's cabinet meeting on Tuesday, September 12.

The Ministry of Agriculture states that the critical situation threatens the economic viability and future existence of companies in the agricultural production sector.

In the summer, the European Commission (EC) granted Latvia emergency support for farmers worth nearly 7 million euros, with the possibility of granting additional state support.

Minister of Agriculture Didzis Šmits (United List) told Latvian Television's Morning Panorama program that emergency funds needed to be disbursed quickly otherwise the chance for additional support might be missed.

The minister stated that, in his opinion, additional funding for farmers could be found from the "Contingency funds" section of the state budget and that the next Minister of Agriculture – likely to come from a different party – could also decide on the allocation of additional money to farmers from the state budget, but that the EC needed clarity about spending by the end of September. 

Farmers and producers have had to contend with various problems this year, from a prolonged drought which hit the country from April to June, frost damage to fruit in late spring, summer storms damaging forests and the ongoing ravages of the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle.

According to the estimates of the Association of Latvian Forest Owners, at least 500 hectares of planted stands of private forest owners have died due to the drought, 1,200 hectares of private forests were cut down in sanitary clearings last year due to damage caused by eight-toothed spruce bark beetles, and a similar situation is expected this year as well, according to the data of the State Forestry Service. 

"Although the areas of the dead forest stands are still being calculated, already current estimates show that the amount of dead stands in private forests will reach 2,600 hectares in 2023," the report said.

The Latvian Rural Consultancy Center (LLKC) and the State Plant Protection Service concluded that 284 farms and 2413 hectares of fruit growing area were affected by frosts, which represents 23% of the total declared fruit growing area.

The total economic losses of the agricultural sector in 2023 amount to 412 million euros, according to the report, with the biggest losses for dairy farming (129 million euros) and grain farming (106 million euros). They are followed by livestock (84 million euros), fodder crops (56 million euros), rape (20 million euros), fruit and berries (11 million euros) and potatoes (2 million euros) growing sectors. 

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