Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have warned that their respective agri-food industries have faced massive economic and social impact as Russia’s ongoing import ban continues to destabilise economies.
“The impact of the Russian embargo is easily forgotten now when new topics are appearing, like the immigrant crisis and Brexit,” said Tiina Linnainmaa, vice-chairwoman of Pellervo Society, a Finnish agricultural cooperative.
“Farmers and their cooperatives are suffering from the embargo. The EU Commission and high-ranking EU politicians have not made enough effort to help them”.
New markets needed
In a statement, Linnainmaa pointed out that the Baltic nations and Finland exported a large volume of value-added food products to Russia for a long time and said the ban has had a “huge impact” on all the nations.
“It takes time, energy and it is costly to find new markets and adapt production and processing to new outlets,” said Roomet Sõrmu, chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce.
“Different EU-financed export and promotion measures should therefore be designed to help the Baltic and Finnish processors get to new markets.”
The cooperative organisations across the Baltic states and Finland have called for the EU Commission to quickly establish targeted measures to help the countries find new markets to mitigate the loss of Russia.
“There is a deep need for targeted support that better reflects the real financial loss the farmers have faced since the Russian embargo,” said Andriejus Stancikas, president of the Chamber of Agriculture for Lithuania.
“So far, the EU hasn’t managed to ease the economic burden that is put on Baltic and Finnish farmers”.
Russian meat imports have continued to fall, with Vladimir Putin driving forward a strategy to becoming entirely self-sustainable in meat production. The chief of Russian Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, Daniel Khotko, told this site he expects beef imports to drop by 35% this year.
Between 2007 and 2012 meat imports dropped by 27%, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation.