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Latvia Agriculture and Fishing Overview
One third of the country's area is cultivable. Cereal production has increased a few years into the 2010s, but dairy production is also important, as is forestry and fishing. Nearly a tenth of the workforce worked in agriculture by the mid-2010s.
Agricultural production as a whole has dropped from one-fifth of GDP at independence to around 3 percent by mid-2010. Agriculture was hit by dramatic price increases on, among other things, fuel and seeds when the state subsidies were removed at the beginning of the 1990s. Part of the huge export market in the east was lost when the Soviet Union disbanded. Most of the cultivated land has been privatized. The roughly 600 collective farms were broken up into a few hundred thousand farms, most of them small and inefficient without competitiveness in the EU market. Lots of farmers were forced to abandon their farms. However, some agricultural and fishing communities were transformed into profitable companies. During the 2010s, the area of individual agriculture has increased. After Latvia's EU accession in 2004, agricultural exports increased sharply.
Two thirds of agricultural land is used for cultivation and one third for pasture. Besides cereals - mainly wheat but also barley, oats and rye - potatoes, rapeseed, vegetables, fruits and berries are grown. Cattle are most common among livestock breeders, followed by pigs and chickens. Pigs and dairy products are exported to Russia. Honey is also an important export product.
About half of the country's area is covered by forest, mainly conifers but also birch and other deciduous trees. Forest and timber products are Latvia's largest export products, primarily timber and pulpwood, but also products from the wood and furniture industry. Swedish forest companies are major players in Latvia.
In Latvia, herring and herring fishing is primarily conducted, and most of the catch is exported. Ever since the Soviet era, Latvia has been an important supplier of canned fish to Russia and other former Soviet states. However, the fishing industry was also affected by declining Russian imports in connection with the Ukraine crisis in the mid-2010s.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
3.3 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
31.1 percent (2016)
Prime Minister Straujuma resigns
Collaborative difficulties with the other parties in the coalition government and criticism of her leadership are stated to be the causes. President Vējonis calls on the parties to agree on a new head of government as soon as possible.
Information on money laundering in banks
The economic cooperation organization OECD expresses great concern that parts of the Latvian banking system are being used for money laundering. The comments are made in a report in connection with a review of the Latvian economy ahead of the country's possible membership in the OECD. The organization writes that 14 of Latvia's 20 registered commercial banks mainly have their customers in Russia and other parts of the former Eastern bloc and that more than half of the EUR 30 billion available in the Latvian banking system comes from such foreign sources. According to the OECD, the control of this money is extremely flawed, which is considered a risk that money from criminal activities can continue into other parts of the EU.
Russian investigation creates anger
Latvia and its neighboring countries react with anger to the fact that the Russian Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into whether the independence of the Baltic States is legal. The inquiry is being carried out at the request of two MPs for the United Russia Power Party, which describes the Soviet Union's recognition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's independence as treason. Baltic leaders say the measure is absurd but an example of the new imperialist attitude that characterizes today's Russia.
New president appointed
In a closed vote, Parliament elected Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis as president. He represents the Green Party and becomes the first head of the environmental movement in the EU.
President Bērziņš is not seeking re-election
Andris Bērziņš's message that he wants to resign comes before Parliament later in the spring to elect a new head of state. Bērziņš was elected president in June 2011.
Latvia becomes EU President
One of the most important issues in the next six months is expected to be the Union's relations with Russia. Latvia is one of the countries that felt most threatened by the more aggressive Russian foreign policy. In May, a summit will be held within the EU's "Eastern Partnership" with six former Soviet states in Riga.