Estonia demands equality in future CAP payments

In December 2012, the Parliament of Estonia adopted their “Declaration on Estonian agriculture and the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.” The declaration appeals to the European Parliament and the European Commission to enable a system of direct payments that would ensure fair competition for all farmers of the European Union.

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According to Estonian Government, future CAP payments in Estonia don’t reach a sufficient level. In recent years, lower salaries and the rapid growth of industry and industrialization, concurrent with the complicated situation of family farms, have been the price Estonian agriculture has had to pay, forced to compete on unequal terms. “Besides efficient large-scale agriculture, we also need small-scale farming and family farms to maintain rural settlements and landscapes, and to diversify agricultural production,” said Minister Seeder, adding that in Estonia the supply of food, the production for export and the introduction of modern technology will mainly concern large producers in the future.

The Estonian Minister of Agriculture went on to say that “Perpetuating the differences between incomes and standards of living with different direct payments cannot be the aim of the Common Agricultural Policy. Estonia does not demand higher support payments but simply equal opportunities on the internal EU market. Competitive agriculture is the best food security guarantee.”

Highlighting that the latest version of the negotiation paper on the EU new financial period states that with a more equal distribution of direct payments between the Member States, the differences in wage levels, purchasing power, outputs of the sector of agriculture and input prices could be addressed, he said it was hard to understand how direct payments could continue to differ so much between the Member States.

Next week, people from across Europe including the Baltic States and eastern Europe will gather in Berlin to demand fairer opportunities for small farmers across Europe and an end to industrial farming practices. In November 2012, farmers’ groups from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania sent an “old and tired” tractor to Brussels in a continuing protest against the inequality of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).