On Monday, 7 September, at least 4,000 farmers gathered outside of the European Parliament in Brussels to voice protests and raise awareness in regard to the critical situation that has formed in the EU dairy industry. A delegation of 100 Baltic farmers was also present at the protest act.
The protest act was even louder thanks to 1,000 tractors, as reported by farmers’ representatives.
One of the main demands Latvian farmers wished to pass on to Brussels is to allocate an additional EUR 700 million from the EU Agricultural Reserve Fund to support the dairy industry.
The protest act was planned to take place simultaneously with the extraordinary meeting of EU Council of Agricultural and Fisheries Ministers in Brussels.
Whether or not Latvian dairy farmers can expect to receive financial support is currently unknown.
During a meeting between Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, the latter promised that a solution to support Latvian dairy industry would be discussed during the nearest meeting.
When asked if there are any indications in the EU’s response, Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs mentioned after the government meeting on 1 September that there are ‘positive indications’.
Deputy Chairman of Farmers’ Saeima and Vice-President of COPA Maira Dzelzkaleja notes that solidarity with the agricultural sector will be asked of Brussels. Other demands include compensation of damage caused by the Russian embargo and fair division of profits in the food network.
«Only 8% of the price we pay for bread and 20% of the price we pay for meat are paid to farmers. Decision-makers in the EC and EP have to agree on measures to help reduce long-term price fluctuations and help search for alternative markets,» – said Dzelzkaleja.
The protest act is organized by Cop/Cogeca European Farmers Organization. The goal is to actualize the situation that has formed in the European dairy, pork, cattle, fruit and vegetable industries and demand actions from EU institutions.
According to estimates of Latvian Agriculture Ministry, the Russian embargo has caused EUR 50 million worth of losses to Latvian milk producers. Losses for exports of agricultural and food products are estimated at EUR 140 million.