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Wednesday 23.05.2018 | Name days: Leontīne, Ligija, Lonija, Leokādija
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Latvian EP deputy files 21 amendments to agricultural policy

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The Latvian EP deputy Alfreds Rubiks

The European Parliament (EP) Agriculture and Rural Development Committee deputy Alfrēds Rubiks has filed 21 amendments to the regulation on agricultural policy arranged by the Latvian Agriculture Ministry.

Overall, 1 300 amendments were submitted. At the moment, I have examined all the submitted 249 proposals, among which four were mine, Rubiks said.

Regarding the direct payment policy development in the European Union (EU), Latvia’s standpoint is to attain to some extent equal payments for farmers. However, the chairman of the Latvian Socialist Party (LSP) Rubiks, who has been elected to the EP from Harmony Centre (Saskaņas centrs) list and is working at the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee as a permanent deputy, claimed it will be difficult to improve the Latvian farmers’ situation, because the Latvian government representatives themselves agreed to such unequal distribution, thus pushing the Latvian farmers into misery.

One of the current issues is the direct payment policy development for 2013–2020. Until 2013, farmers will see no changes at least in terms of direct payments, which are very unequal. The EU has announced it is advocating equal competition opportunities, yet direct payments to Latvian farmers are 3.5 times smaller than in Germany, six times smaller than in Greece and ten times smaller than in the Benelux countries.

Rubiks tried to find out why Latvian farmers have come to such unequal position; however the European Commission produced 2004 documents where the Latvian government’s representatives agreed to such distribution. Now nothing can be done, because in order Latvian farmers would receive more, part of the payments should be deducted from another EU country’s farmers, but no one wants this.

Currently, the EP Agriculture and Rural Development Committee is discussing two proposals. One is put forward by the Latvian Agriculture Ministry and was presented by Rubiks at meetings in Brussels. It stipulates in the next EU planning period the lowest payment of 200 euro (LVL140.5) per hectare – 1.5 – 2 times more than the Latvian farmers receive now, and the highest – 300 euro (LVL 210) per hectare. The gap between 200 euro and 300 euro could be differentiated based on the country’s geographical location, soil fertility, air quality and other factors. However, Rubiks considers this proposal will not be approved, as it is rarely discussed.

The second option under discussion provides the lowest direct payment would be 75% of the average EU payment, but the largest – 125%. Currently it is unclear which of the proposals will win and whether any of them will be adopted at all, Rubiks noted.

The LSP leader is convinced stopping sugar production in Latvia was not only foolish but, possibly, malice. Rubiks was told that interested parties had even set an ultimatum to some minister, saying if he wanted to be appointed he had to ensure that only Jelgava and Liepaja sugar factories operate. Afterwards Latvia fell for the 53 million euro compensation «candy» and shut down its sugar factories.

Rubiks has obtained the European Court of Auditors’ report, stating the sugar reform did not pay off. Nearly 80 sugar factories were closed. EU member states could decide whether to give up sugar production and how much to grant from the compensation to producers, reserving at least 10% to cultivators and equipment suppliers. The EU deliveries are now increasingly dependent on imports, while new ways of using sugar further boost the demand. However, sugar has not become cheaper for consumers.

In Latvia, 219 farms, 32 limited liability companies, 73 natural persons, two cooperatives and two joint stock companies received support payments for sugar production halt. Of those refunds, 500 000 lats went to rural municipalities for road maintenance in 2009. In January 2010, the allocation of one million lats to Jelgava and Liepaja municipalities was started to improve environmental factors. Therefore, Rubiks is convinced sugar production should be renewed in Latvia, exporting part of the production to third countries, for example, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

 


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