Support to farmers for environmentally responsible production

6/25/2003 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 25 June 2003 - The state pays farmers agri-environmental support with the aim of compensating for the smaller profitability arising from environment-friendly management. The audit by the SAO concerned the appropriateness of the payment of support and equality of treatment of all applicants.

The audit showed that at the moment it is possible to apply for several supports per one unit of land. Support had been paid at the same time for environment-friendly management and organic production as well as for environment-friendly management and good plant production practice. It was not forbidden to pay support for maintenance of semi-natural biotic communities together with support for environment-friendly management, which essentially may cover overlapping activities. In 2003, persons engaged in maintenance of semi-natural biotic communities may apply for an environment support administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, in addition to an agri-environmental support paid by the Ministry of the Environment. There is no mechanism available to avoid double payment for the protected areas.

During the audit, the SAO also noticed the framers’ ignorance about correct fertilisation. According to good agriculture practise, fields are fertilised to the extent that compensates the loss of nutrient elements in the soil, however, some farmers who applied for support for their fields had not planned any fertilisation. For example, an application from Saaremaa considered organic fertilisation of barley necessary. This is not appropriate because spring grain does not absorb organic fertilisers well. On the other hand, the applicant grew also potatoes and winter grain, for which no organic fertilisation was planned, although there should have been. As there were other such examples, the SAO proposed to assist farmers to order plans from competent authorities: laboratories, Plant Material Control Centre, etc. Besides this, several Ministry-provided standards for nitrogen fertiliser use are damaging to nature on the environmentally sensitive areas in Võrumaa and Saaremaa.

The audit discovered several inaccuracies in the completion of documentation. As a result, the personnel of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB), the authority providing the support, needed to specify much of the data. It is also significant that many protests were filed against non-payment of support, but the majority of them were satisfied because the reason for providing false data was not fraud, but ignorance of the correct completion of documentation. The great number of applications accepted a posteriori implies that the requirements set for agri-environmental support were many and too complicated. This results in unequal treatment of applicants because if an application is not accepted, only the farmers who dare to contest the decision of the ARIB receive support.

The support (started in 2001) is paid, e.g., for employment of the techniques of good plant production practice, organic production, breeding of animals of Estonian breed, planting of hedgerows of multiple species, building of stone walls or ponds, etc. Altogether, 29 million kroons were paid as support, with a quarter of it going to Saaremaa.

Sven Soiver
Press Representative of State Audit Office
Telephone: (372) 640 0787
GSM: (372) 53 414464
E-mail: [email protected]

  • Posted: 6/25/2003 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 10/2/2015 5:49 PM
  • Last Review: 10/2/2015 5:49 PM

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