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Crash for the government’s agricultural plan in the Storting – lack of support for important points

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Lene Westgaard-Halle (H) during the debate on the income calculation for agriculture in the Stortingsalen. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB

Of NTB | 18.04.2024 11:23:28

Policy: – The government has acted fraudulently and in a manner that does not inspire confidence in this matter. They have been working on this message for a year and a half and got a majority for their own proposal. When they now suddenly turn around on the same day the matter is to be voted on, it clearly shows that this is not a government that can be trusted, says Høyre’s Lene Westgaard-Halle.

She was clearly disappointed with the government when the matter was debated in the Storting on Thursday morning.

– The government breaks the agreement with us. Breaking an agreement is messy and fraudulent, I’m sorry. The proposal that has now been put forward has major financial consequences without it being submitted to us, said Westgaard-Halle in the Storting.

It is happening after violent protests from the industry. The noise from demonstrating farmers could easily be heard inside the parliament hall, while the politicians discussed how to secure the farmers’ income for the future.

In the agreement with the Conservatives and Liberals, 1,845 hours a year for the farmers were set as the basis, while the government proposed 1,750 hours at the last minute on Thursday morning.

– The government gives us no other choice when they break the agreement with us, said Westgaard-Halle in the Storting.

Thus, there is no longer a majority in favor of the model for how to calculate the income level of the farmers in the escalation plan.

– We have negotiated in good faith with the governing parties. Although we originally had different positions, it was important for us to reach an agreement that can stand up over time. Now the government is focusing both on predictability and good framework conditions for the industry, and not least its own trust, says Westgaard-Halle.

– The agreement in question is based on the figures presented. We have not adjusted anything on that model based on conversations we have had with the Conservatives and the Left. We have always been open that we wanted to adjust the number of hours. That has been our main position and we sought and received a majority for it, she said

– We wanted the Storting to meet the industry, and therefore we have submitted an additional proposal. We stand for it and have not been dishonest about it at any time in the process, she said.

But now the agreement with the Conservative Party and thus also the parliamentary majority for the government’s original plan for income calculation is breaking down.

– There may not be a majority at all for the income system. It is serious, said Alfred Bjørlo (V) in the hall.

The Storting will vote on the plan at 2 p.m., but it is still unclear which parts of the plan can get a majority from which parties.

– It is a slight improvement and far from good enough. We can consider voting to lower the number of hours in isolation, but we do not give our blessing to the whole, the parties state in a joint statement.

The parties were clear that they would not support the government’s model for income calculation, which initially had the support of the Conservative Party.

They have proposed their own compromise for the income calculation.

– We will urge the government parties once again to vote for our compromise proposal. It will meet both the government and agriculture well, in addition to obtaining a broad majority that can stand over time, the statement says.

SV’s Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes has been the prosecutor for the case. He has only one word to describe the government’s handling of the matter:

– Unintelligible.

The reversal comes after the government parties on Thursday morning submitted a new proposal in which they will base a different number of hours for man-years in agriculture than they themselves had agreed with the Conservatives and Liberals.

The Labor Party’s agricultural policy spokesperson Solveig Vitanza defends how the government has handled the case and denies that Ap and Sp have acted fraudulently towards the Conservative Party.

SV, Rødt, MDG and KrF have proposed 1,700 hours per man-year in agriculture. In a hastily called press conference on Thursday morning, they announced that they will support the government’s new proposal for 1750 hours on this point.

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