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Farmers feel left out in the cold, ready for new protests

Photo: Kristine Meistare/LETA.
 RIGA, Nov 23 - The latest proposal by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on the European Union's direct payments is unacceptable and Baltic farmers are ready for new protests, "Nozare.lv" was informed by Baltic agriculture organizations.
"We have been left out in the cold and such old member states as Austria, Luxembourg and Slovenia will basically see increases at our expense. We are not comfortable with the role of fools and will stage protests in all three Baltic countries," said Farmers' Saeima head Juris Lazdins.
Agricultural Organizations Cooperation Council board member Armands Krauze pointed out that Rompuy's proposal - EUR 196 (LVL 138) per hectare by 2020, especially at the expense of rural development program cuts, is unacceptable.
"With the current proposal, the prime minister should block the joint decision and vote against the bloc's budget. Today, the heads of Baltic agriculture organizations will convene for a meeting and decide on further action," pointed out Krauze.
As reported, Latvian farmers are being offered EUR 196 (LVL 138) per hectare or approximately 80 percent of the bloc's average level of direct payments by 2020.
Regarding the maximum amount of cohesion funds, Latvia is being offered 2.59 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which could amount to around EUR 4.3 billion (LVL 3 billion) in 2014-2020. This is not in the country's interests. Latvia's goal is to retain the current level of cohesion funds - EUR 4.7 billion (LVL 3.3 billion) in 2014-2020. To achieve this, the maximum amount of cohesion funds must be set at 2.9 percent of GDP.
Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) believes that the proposal cannot be considered as Latvia's victory, however, the bloc's member states are constructively-minded and on their way to reaching agreement.
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