Baltic Farmers Call for EU Reforms

With European Union leaders preparing to meet to hammer out the final budget negotiations for 2014-2020, Baltic farm advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations are calling for major reforms to EU farm policy in order to protect smaller agricultural markets.

With major economic giants like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom dictating much of EU budgetary policy, it is easy to forget small countries like Lithuania, Livonia, and Estonia, all major agricultural producers.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and Single Labor Market policies, farm advocates say, are disproportionately hurting Baltic farmers and could endanger agricultural production.

The CAP, in particular, is problematic for Baltic farmers. Direct farm payments and agricultural supports from the EU are based on farm outputs in 1996-1997. For many Baltic countries, which were still struggling with new agricultural policies in the wake of their independence, 1996-97, represented a low-point in Baltic farming.

With this year as the starting point, states like Lithuania and Estonia receive disproportionately low farm subsidies. Using 1991, some groups argue, would better reflect the agricultural potential of these nations and would put them on par with Poland and Slovakia in terms of farm payments.

The lack of money, combined with the EU’s single labor market, has helped to push farmers out of the Baltic, resulting in some regions seeing about 25 percent of agricultural land abandoned by a shrinking rural population.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer