Farmers' Saeima reminds that a protest organized by Baltic farmers to call for fair direct payments and fair EU Common Agricultural Policy will take place in Brussels on February 20, ahead of an extraordinary European Council meeting where agreement is to be reached on the EU's multi-annual budget for 2021 to 2027.
During the protest, farmers will be supported by the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Farmers' Saeima points out that the outcome of the European Council meeting will also determine the budget to be allocated for the EU's Common Agricultural Policy after 2020.
In the last round of talks in December, Baltic leaders were united in their call for full equalization of direct payments between the EU member countries by the end of the next programming period.
Farmers' Saeima also points out that the problem of unequal direct payments dates back to the time when the Baltic countries joined the EU.
Direct payments were based on estimates for the time when all three Baltic countries were at their lowest point of development, trying to move away from the Soviet centralized farming model to the family farm structure.
In 2013, the European Council unanimously agreed that by 2020 at the latest, direct payments to farmers in all EU member countries should reach a level of no less than EUR 196 per hectare, but this has not yet happened, notes Farmers' Saeima.
The organization points out that Baltic farmers continue to systematically receive no more than 54 percent to 70 percent of the European average direct payments, while European leaders completely ignore the Baltic countries' continuing dissatisfaction with the current situation and demanding solutions to the problem.
Farmers' Saeima points out that despite the lowest support received by Baltic farmers in the EU, Baltic farmers have to cope with higher production costs, 129 percent of the average EU production costs in Estonia, 112 percent in Lithuania and 113 percent in Latvia.
Baltic farmers are deeply concerned that the growing pressures from environmental issues in future policies and the European Green Deal are not accompanied by adequate funding for the Common Agricultural Policy.
Farmers' Saeima adds that the EU Rural Development Policy has proved a fundamentally important and effective tool for infrastructure development and increasing the living standards in all three Baltic countries.
For these reasons, the proposal by the European Commission to cut funding for rural development by 15 percent is categorically unacceptable. ■