Minister for Agriculture, Kaspars Gerhards: European Union must provide more protection to its farmers and producers
Wednesday, May 13, Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister for Agriculture will participate in an informal videoconference, where participants will discuss a negative impact on agriculture, fisheries and food industry caused by Covid-19, support measures, implemented up to now, and further necessary actions to restore national economy.
Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister for Agriculture: “At present, it is most important than anytime before, to prove a unity and solidarity of the European Union Member States as well as to protect the European Union market. At the moment of global crisis, caused by Civid-19, primarily, the EU market must be strengthened by reducing the volume of imported goods and services, as much as possible to facilitate economic activity of market players of the European Union Member States. Without doubt, inhabitants of EU Member States, when choosing goods for their food baskets, should consider a possibility to give preference to domestic producers thus, ensuring a considerable support for local farmers and producers. The higher proportion of locally produced goods are on sale the more promoted local products will be on the market.”
Latvia appreciates the measures implemented by the European Commission (COM) up to now, this particularly refers to simplification of different regulations and procedures and derogations, advance payments, easier conditions for amendment of the Rural Development Program 2014-2020 (RDP) and support for private storage of milk products. Just as positive can be assessed COM measures with a view to lessening of Covid-19 impact on fisheries sector.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) points out that it is necessary to pay more attention to the protection of EU producers and enterprises, to give preference on the EU market to products produced in EU and not imported; it is high time to impose a more stringent requirement that imported products conform to the same high production standards as EU producers are obliged to meet.
At the same time, MoA highlights several problems to be addressed. For example, COM does not provide an additional funding for rural development to implement these measures. However, the Member States, which have been successfully implementing RDP and which have utilized RDP funding, incl. Latvia, will not be able to use these measures. Therefore, Latvia will not be able to implement the COM measure supporting farmers (EUR 5000) and small and medium enterprises (EUR 50 000). MoA considers that a solution must be found here how to support the Member States, which have been successfully implementing RDP and for which RDP is not available anymore. They need additional funding from COM to ensure that all the Member States have equal opportunities to lessen a negative impact of Covid-19 crisis in the area of rural development.
Taking into account that in Latvia, in the last few weeks, pig meat prices have fallen by 20%, MoA considers that the private storage support is also necessary for pig meat.
Without doubt, Covid-19 will leave a long-term impact on the sector of agriculture and food industry. Therefore, working on the funding of the Common Agricultural Policy for 2021-2027 programming period, it is urgent to adjust direct payments equally for all the EU Member States.
Difficult times are also encountered in fisheries – a turnover has reduced, there is a risk of dismissals of workers, increasing stock in warehouses, getting payment for sold products is problematic. Therefore, MOA expects that COM will accept the amendments to the Operational Program for Fisheries Development for 2014-2020, MoA submitted in April of the current year to enable MoA to start implementation of support measures in all the sectors of fisheries.
Information prepared by: Dagnija Muceniece,
Head of the Press and Public Relations Division
telephone: 67027070; mob.: 26534104