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On the initiative of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party faction, the Riigikogu discussed today the topic “How to cope with crises in agriculture?” as a matter of significant national importance. Member of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction Mart Helme, Professor at the Institute of Economics and Social Sciences Rando Värnik, head of Valga County Farmers’ Union Kalle Kits and chair of the rural group of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce Tõnu Post made reports.

Mart Helme said that the decisions made at present would affect what would happen in Estonian agriculture after several decades. “Agriculture is a sector that is important not only in economic terms; it important also from the social, security and economic aspect.” In Helme’s words, diversity would help avoid crises, but there is too little diversity in Estonian agriculture.

Rando Värnik said that although it was the task of agricultural undertakings to manage risks, it was impossible to foresee all risks. Among other things, he presented a study carried out at the Estonian University of Life Sciences according to which undertakings considered the fluctuation of the prices of production and raw material as the greatest risk, and that is what should be tackled above all else when managing risks, Värnik said.

Kalle Kits said that over the past ten years the Estonian plant production sector had undergone an impressive development thanks to European Union subsidies. At the same time, undertakings have assumed large loan obligations that cannot be paid off in a short span of time. In his words, agricultural undertakings needed risk management instruments that offered comprehensive solutions. He stated however that plant breeders were in a position to successfully manage the fluctuation of prices at present, too.

Tõnu Post said that Estonia had very good conditions for animal husbandry, but stock farmers were not protected against crises either. While there were 320,000 cows in Estonia at the time of collective farms, they numbered as few as 86 000 after the last milk crisis. With every crisis, jobs are lost. Practice shows that a large share of the people who sell all their dairy cattle in the time of a crisis do not procure a new cattle when the crisis is over.

Urmas Kruuse, Monika Haukanõmm, Martin Helme, Martin Repinski, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Jürgen Ligi and Mart Helme took the floor during the debate.

The speakers presented their positions on how to cope with crises in agriculture. The European Union subsidies and the creation of equal conditions with European farmers were also spoken about.

The Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm also gave an overview of the current situation and problems of agriculture.

Photos of the sitting

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) 

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Eva Vahur
631 6592, 53300619
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee