Viewing cable 09VILNIUS715
Title: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09VILNIUS7152009-12-29 13:49:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0715 3631349
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291349Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4033
INFO RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW PRIORITY 3831
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000715 
 
SIPDIS 
 
EMBASSY WARSAW FOR AGRICULTURAL ATTACHE ERIC WENBERG 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON EAGR ETRD TBIO LH
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE 
 
¶1.  Summary.  On December 18th Ambassador Derse made her 
first call on Minister of Agriculture Kazys Starkevicius to 
learn more about Lithuania's agricultural sector, which 
accounts for 4.5% of Lithuania's GDP.  They shared ideas on 
business exchange opportunities such as the upcoming visit of 
agricultural industry representatives from Nebraska and 
Lithuania's AgroBalt exhibition in the spring.  Starkevicius 
said that the economic crisis has not had a big impact on 
Lithuania's agriculture industry noting that exports are 
largely unchanged from one year ago.  He said that trade 
disputes with Russia remain a concern.  Starkevicius also 
discussed agriculture programs that the GOL is implementing 
in coordination with the EU.  End summary. 
 
 
¶2.  Starkevicius said that 29% of Lithuania's agricultural 
exports go to Russia.  He expressed concern about Russia's 
interference with Lithuanian dairy exports last summer. 
Starkevicius explained that Russia has more stringent 
standards than the EU for antibiotic content in dairy 
products.  He said that Lithuanian products must meet both 
standards and alluded that the problem with Russia was more 
political than technical.  (Note: on December 28 Russia 
prohibited the import of meat and cheese from two Lithuanian 
producers, reigniting this perennial problem). 
 
¶3.  Starkevicius discussed several EU agricultural programs 
underway in Lithuania including a rural development plan to 
preserve cultural heritage sites such as churches and 
markets.  The GOL is also using EU funds to offer incentives 
for agricultural workers to seek employment in other sectors 
to help diversify the economy.  Starkevicius added that the 
GOL will open a Land Bank on July 1 to encourage the leasing 
of abandoned land by developers who will cultivate the 
properties.  He explained that there are 444,000 hectares of 
abandoned land in Lithuania that were purchased for 
speculative purposes and are now unused. 
 
 
¶4.  The Ambassador highlighted an upcoming visit by 31 
agricultural industry representatives from Nebraska who will 
participate in a Leadership Education Action Development 
(LEAD) international study seminar in the Baltic States 
January 11-22.  The group will meet with MOA officials to 
exchange ideas on agriculture programs and to identify 
prospects for business opportunities. The Nebraska group will 
also meet with U.S. Embassy representatives for an overview 
on foreign policy goals and the investment climate in 
Lithuania.  Starkevicius said that his team would like to 
take advantage of this opportunity learn more about U.S. 
agricultural support programs. 
 
 
¶5.  Starkevicius said that Lithuania will host the annual 
AgroBalt 2010 exhibition April 29 - May 1.  He asked if the 
U.S. Embassy would be willing to operate a booth and invite 
U.S. business representatives to participate.  Ambassador 
Derse assured him that our Embassy will work with our 
Agricultural Attach in Warsaw to disseminate this request. 
DERSE