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Estonia Agriculture and Fishing Overview
About a fifth of Estonia's area is cultivable, but milk production and the dairy industry are the most important. Meat, pork and eggs are also important products. There are extensive crops of cereals, legumes and potatoes. Food is an important part of Estonia's exports.
Most of the production takes place in converted collective farms from the Soviet era, now often run as joint stock companies or cooperatives. The machinery is modern, largely financed by EU grants.
Organic production has increased sharply since the turn of the millennium, when the government provided increased support for organic farming. The goal is that about one-fifth of agricultural land will be grown organically by 2020. Several large farms are engaged in organic farming.
The number of farms has more than halved since the turn of the millennium. Every year almost 1,000 small farms are closed down. In 2016, there were about 17,000 farms, most of them very small.
At Estonia's independence in 1991, about one fifth of the labor force was active in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Nowadays, the proportion is about one-twentieth.
Prior to World War II (1939-1945), agriculture accounted for over half of Estonia's exports. During the Soviet era (1944–1991), the peasants were forced to leave their land for large collective farms, unilaterally focused on milk and meat production for the rest of the Soviet Union and dependent on cheap feed and fuel imports from there.
Independent Estonia has tried to return the farmland to the original owners, but it has often been difficult to determine who is the right owner. Most new small family farms have also failed to compete, as protection duties and government subsidies have disappeared. Many have been closed down with EU support.
The government has been forced to reintroduce state aid for milk, cereal and oil plant production. However, many meat and pork producers have failed to meet EU quality standards and have been forced to close down. Although several small farmers have found new income through vegetable cultivation, the countryside has been hit hard by unemployment. The new government from 2016 has increased support for agriculture.
Fish is an important element of Estonia's food culture and coastal fishing used to be a significant industry. Although fishing has now returned, a great deal of herring / herring and sharp herring are caught in the Baltic Sea. Estonian trawlers also fish in the Atlantic.
Forestry has increased with the export of timber and processed wood products to the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe. Forests are Estonia's most important natural resource. Nearly half of the country's area is wooded, but there are fears of too rapid harvesting.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
2.2 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
23.1 percent (2016)
Great defense order to the Netherlands
Estonia buys 44 infantry combat vehicles from the Netherlands for around EUR 100 million, the largest single order from the Estonian defense to date. The order consists mostly of Swedish-built Combat Vehicles 90, which will be delivered between 2016 and 2018.
Long detention for the abducted officer
A Moscow court decides that Estonian officer Eston Kohver (see September) be detained until January 5, 2015.
The finance minister is leaving after frog on Facebook
Finance Minister Jürgen Rigi resigns after making a derogatory statement on Facebook about the Minister of Education, the Russian-speaking minority's only representative in the Estonian government.
Same-sex couples are recognized
Estonia becomes the first former Soviet Republic to adopt a law on registered partnerships for same-sex couples. The law includes the right for same-sex couples to adopt children. Before the law can take effect, a number of other laws must be amended at several points. The decision is made by Parliament by a small majority, and according to opinion polls, two-thirds of Estonians are against equal rights for gay couples.
The arrested officer is taken to Moscow; The EU is protesting
Estonian officer Eston Kohver is formally charged with espionage and taken to the Russian intelligence service FSB's detention center Lefortovo in Moscow. He faces up to 20 years in prison, according to the lawyer hired. The EU demands that he be released immediately and brought back to Estonia. A similar statement is made by the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic and Nordic countries during a meeting in Tallinn.
Russian intervention revolts
The abduction of the intelligence officer raises great outrage in Estonian society, where the event is considered a Russian demonstration of power and a test of NATO's readiness to defend its new eastern members. The Russian authorities do not give Estonia any official information about the arrest and Estonian diplomats may not meet the officer. The removal takes place just two days after US President Barack Obama visited Estonia and assured the country of US support.
Estonian intelligence officer is arrested by Russia
An Estonian intelligence officer is being arrested by a Russian court, suspected of espionage, after being arrested by Russian security personnel at the border. According to Russian data, the man is arrested on Russian soil while the Estonian Foreign Ministry says he is arrested on the Estonian side of the border by masked men who, under weapons threats and in the protection of a smoking curtain for him into Russian soil. His communication equipment is disturbed. Estonia claims the man was carrying out an investigation into cross-border crime, while Russia says he had € 5,000 in cash, weapons and ammunition and interception equipment, which is interpreted as being a spy. The Estonian Foreign Ministry submits a protest against the arrest to Russia's ambassador.
The reform party is largest in EU elections
In the election to the European Parliament, the Reform Party becomes the largest party with just over 24 percent of the vote. The Center Party gets just over 22 percent, while the IRL wins close to 14 percent and the Social Democrats get just over 13. The turnout is 36.5 percent.
Social Minister Rõivas forms government
After ten days of reflection, President Ilves assigns the task of forming a new government to 34-year-old Socialist Taavi Rõivas, after Siim Kallas resigned, citing his media exposure. Rõivas presents a government consisting of the Reform Party and the Social Democrats. The latter party replaces IRL as the Reform Party's partner. The new government has 52 of Parliament's 101 seats.
Prime Minister Ansip submits his resignation application. President Ilves has two weeks to appoint a new government leader. After ruling the country since 2005, Ansip is the Estonian Prime Minister who has been in power for the longest time. During his time, the country has been praised for how it could recover from a deep economic crisis.