Cold climate could finally work in favour of Finnish farmers
European Commission to sharply curtail LFA support
Long winters and cool summers are finally proving to be an advantage for Finnish farmers.
In upcoming discussions on agricultural policy in the European Union, temperature is to be recognised a measurable factor that cannot be manipulated through political skullduggery.
The European Commission wants to reform the rules under which so-called Less-Favoured Area (LFA) agricultural subsidies are paid out.
Under existing rules, there are more than 100 national criteria for qualification as an LFA area. Consequently, nearly 60 per cent of agricultural land that is in use in the EU is classified as “less favoured”.
Under the planned changes, less favoured status would be measured on the basis of just eight criteria, one of which is a cold climate.
“It seems that all of Finland will fit into this group on the basis of a short growing season and the small size of the temperature sum”, said Centre Party MEP Kyösti virrankoski in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Diplomatic sources describe Finland’s negotiating situation as a “real case”, because numbers on the thermometer are quite clear. Other criteria include rocky soil, dryness, chemical characteristics, and inclination.
While the Commission denies that its main aim would be to sharply cut LFA subsidies. this is assumed by many to be the goal, which is why the plans have sparked negative reactions in countries that have benefited from LFA subsidies based on what are seen as tenuous reasons.
Ministers of agriculture of the EU countries are set to begin talks on the proposed changes in Luxembourg on Thursday. Attending the meeting will be Finland’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (Centre).
MEP Virrankoski warns Finns not to lull themselves into a belief that the new LFA subsidy could replace the current agricultural subsidies for the south of Finland.
The Commission holds the view that agricultural subsidies for the south of Finland, the so-called 141 subsidies, will eventually be phased out. The Finnish government would like it to be replaced by LFA subsidies.
“LFA is vital for Finland, but it will not be sufficient to replace the 141 subsidies”, Virrankoski emphasised.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finland to keep Article 141 agricultural subsidies for six more years (28.11.2007)
EU Commissioner for Agriculture: Finland’s temporary 141-Support cannot continue forever (29.10.2007)