The Latvian presidency of the council of the EU will end on 30 June, when the six-month rotating presidency will be handed to Luxembourg.
During Latvia’s tenure, its ministry of agriculture has been focusing on the promotion of organic farming, which accounts for 11% of agriculture in the country, compared with 3% in the UK.
Here’s seven other interesting facts about Latvian agriculture you may not know:
1. Total agricultural area in Latvia is 1,872,500 hectares (37% of total land area), of which 65% is arable land, 35% pastures and meadows and 0.3% to permanent crops.
2. Cereal production (27%) takes up the highest share in Latvian agricultural output, followed by milk (22%), fodder crops (10%), oilseeds (9%), pigs (7%), potatoes (5%), cattle (4%) and eggs (3%), according to Latvian Ministry of Agriculture figures for 2013.
3. Latvia ranks among five EU member states with the highest ratio of organic agriculture against the total area of agricultural land in the country. According to 2013 Eurostat data, the five are Austria (19.5%), Sweden (16.3%), Estonia (16%), Czech Republic (11.2%) and Latvia (11%).
4. In 2012, Latvia received €407m (£296m) in agricultural support payments from the EU, which was split between direct payments (45.2%), rural development (41%), fisheries (8%), other (5.9%).
5. In 2013, farmers in Latvia received €89/ha (£65/ha) under the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) subsidies – roughly five times less than the figure UK farmers were paid.
6. Latvia exported roughly one-quarter of its food to Russia before it announced a food import ban in August 2014. In 2013, Latvia exported €656m (£478m) of food to Russia. Since the ban, Latvia has explored new export destinations, including China and the Far East.
7. In 2014, the average Latvian farmer was paid a gross salary of €7,836/year (£5,700), which was less than the national average gross salary of €9,180/year (£6,678).
An informal meeting of EU ministers for agriculture took place in Riga, Latvia from 31 May to 2 June.
The Latvian Ministry for Agriculture, in association with the European Network of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ), hosted the meeting to showcase one the main agricultural priorities of the Latvian presidency under the EU – organic farming.
Farmers Weekly deputy news editor and British Guild of Agricultural Journalists (GAJ) member Philip Case joined 43 other EU journalists on the trip.