Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning agricultural subsidies (No. 217), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Arno Sild, Martin Helme, Henn Põlluaas, Mart Helme, Uno Kaskpeit, Jaak Madison and Raivo Põldaru on 5 May.
The interpellators highlighted the fact that, due to various reasons, the pork and milk production in Estonia has fallen into a deep crisis. Rapid intervention by the Government is necessary to alleviate the situation. They stressed that the preservation of domestic agricultural and food production would have a wider economic impact on rural regions, the export capability of Estonia, and the related sector of agriculture both in the country and in the city.
The interpellators wished to know what transitional aid or other measures the European Union had promised this year in order to ensure equal treatment of Estonian agricultural producers with producers in other countries, and to mitigate the impacts of the market crisis.
Rõivas said that the greatest financial support to agricultural producers comes from the direct aid paid within the framework of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy which amounts to significantly more in the current funding period in comparison to the previous funding period. For the period 2014—2020, the total amount of direct payments allocated to Estonia from the European Union budget is over a billion euro. The total amount of the previous funding period was 502.8 million euro from the European Union funds.
“The Government has been paying heightened attention to the welfare of Estonian agriculture, especially the dairy and pig farming sectors,” Rõivas said. “We are doing everything that is possible and everything in our power to improve this situation.” He explained that the situation in the European Union common dairy and pork market is affected primarily by the supply and demand ratio because, in Estonia, for example the production of milk exceeds consumption by 1.7 times. This simple fact alone says that we are dependent on how successfully we can sell our dairy products outside of Estonia. “We know that the traditional large-scale export markets have disappeared, and finding new markets is very time-consuming,” the Prime Minister admitted. Rõivas noted that all opportunities, including the market organisation and crisis aid measures implemented by the European Union, will have to be used as effectively and wisely as possible.
Rõivas considers it important to open new export markets to ensure sustainability of Estonian agriculture and the whole food sector. “Under the leadership of the Minister of Rural Affairs and the Minister of Entrepreneurship, it is necessary to continue with efforts to help Estonian products reach the Chinese and Japanese markets. Food safety protocols for admitting products made from Estonian milk, sprat and Baltic herring to those markets have already been concluded with China. The work towards finding and opening new markets is continuing,” the Prime Minister explained.
Rõivas noted that various rural and agricultural subsidies are paid to the extent of more than 200 million euro in Estonia every year, and this also includes direct payments to the extent of about 114 million euro this year. Besides that, in the discussions on the state budget strategy in the Government, the payment of additional 4.6 million euro directly to milk producers has been agreed upon for the next year. A 15 million investment support to large projects to create higher added value for dairy products has also been agreed upon.
“The establishment of a company at the Rural Development Foundation which, in the opinion of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, would provide new and flexible opportunities for using financial means in supporting the agricultural sector is waiting to be discussed and decided upon in the agenda for a Government cabinet meeting,” Rõivas noted.
The Prime Minister also replied to the interpellation concerning Estonian foreign policy (No. 224).
The Minister of the Environment Marko Pomerants replied to the interpellation concerning the drafting and presentation of the Earth’s Crust Strategy (No. 220).
The Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to the interpellation concerning the sustainability of the financing of Estonian health care (No. 219).
The Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur replied to the interpellation concerning the report “The Progress and Effectiveness of the Establishment of the Police and Border Guard Board” by the National Audit Office, and the tense security situation (No. 213), the interpellation concerning illegal immigrants moving around freely in Estonia (No. 214) and the interpellation concerning the violation of law in taxi services in Estonia (No. 221).
On the motion of the State Budget Control Select Committee, discussion of the report “Potential Changes in Fiscal Policy Paradigm in the Estonian Parliamentary System” as a matter of significant national importance was removed from the agenda for the working week. The discussion of the issue is planned for the 14 June sitting.
The sitting ended at 7.53 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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