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Small family farms dominated the agriculture sector of Estonia before WW II. Food processing and exports were mainly cooperative and the excellent quality of Estonian butter and bacon highly valued on European markets. After the war Estonia was annexed and incorporated into what was then the Soviet Union. Family farms were nationalised and consolidated forming large production units reaching thousands of hectares. When Estonia finally regained the independence in 1991, tens of thousands of people took up farming on the lands once owned by their parents and grandparents. The rebirth of family farming was more romantic than rational, though. Many new farmers had no necessary training or skills and all of them lacked every kind of resource needed – machinery, farm buildings, quality seeds etc.


As a result, despite all the hard work many of the almost 50 000 new family farms that appeared between 1989 and 1995 were gone by the time Estonia joined the European Union in 2004. Decline in the numbers allowed those family farms that survived the difficult years to expand their land use, increase production to the economically sustainable levels and invest in more efficient technology. Today the family farms in Estonia are quite large compared to their counterparts in many other countries. There are family farms that grow field crops on a 1000 hectares or more, but even the average farm size is now well over 100 hectares. The largest family farms mainly grow different cereals and protein crops, the medium size farms utilise the abundant grassland to produce milk and beef and smaller family farms produce potatoes, vegetables, fruits and berries for the fresh market.



Family farming lex

Climate Change Adaptation Development Plan until 2030

The Ministry of the Environment of Estonia is responsible for the implementation of the Plan. Responsible authorities also include the Ministry of Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Finance, the...


Renovating a dairy cowshed in Estonia

A young female farmer decided to expand her farm in order for it to be able to accommodate the increasing production needs. Thanks to RDP support she was able to renovate the cowshed by installing a new feeding system and more milking places, along with a more efficient manure processing...