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The farmers demand NOK 3.9 billion – grain, potatoes and milk may become more expensive

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Leader of the Norwegian Farmers’ Association Bjørn Gimming and general secretary Sigrid Hjørnegård with the claim in a box before handing over this year’s agricultural settlement. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB

Of NTB | 26.04.2024 14:02:20

Economy and business: The demand from the farmers’ organizations was handed over to the state’s head of negotiations, head of expedition Viil Søyland in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, on Friday.

The main features are:

* The claim is NOK 3.9 billion. 1.4 billion of this will cover the farmers’ increased costs. The requirement corresponds to NOK 82,900 per man-year.

* The target prices – meaning that people have to pay more for food in shops – will be increased by NOK 1 billion from 1 July. This applies to food grains, potatoes, ten vegetables, apples and milk.

* Almost NOK 1.9 billion goes to closing the income gap between farmers and other groups.

* NOK 270 million can be withdrawn from the market for products without a target price. This corresponds to an increase of 1.3 per cent.

– It is not possible without the income gap between farmers and others closing as quickly as possible, says leader Bjørn Gimming.

The requirement closes more than half of the income gap between farmers and other groups, according to the Norwegian Farmers’ Association. For the average farmer, this means NOK 75,900 per family man-year, according to the new calculation method.

Both the Farmers’ Association and the Norwegian Farmers’ and Small Farmers’ Association say that many are in doubt as to whether they want to continue in the industry.

– We farmers are happy to take on the task of producing more food and for a market where the consumer is the boss. It is absolutely essential that farmers have the motivation to produce food – dare to believe in a future with security for an income that covers bills and to be able to live like most people, Gimming said.

He says the requirement has been drawn up with the aim of equalizing the income differences between the various groups of farmers, which they are satisfied with.

The government’s head of negotiations, Søyland, on the other hand, characterized the demand as very high. After several years of extraordinary cost increases, we are now over the worst peak, she stated.

– That provides a basis for a clearly lower frame than what we have seen in recent years, she said.

– Both the size of the framework and the scope of difficult topics mean that these will be demanding negotiations, she added.

When asked by Nettavisen about Søyland’s assessment of the requirement as very high, Gimming replied:

– A negotiated solution naturally requires a significant willingness to negotiate on the part of the state.

The state presents its offer to the farmers on 6 May. The parties then see whether there is a basis for proceeding with negotiations. They have until May 16 to agree.

The Conservatives believe the farmers are “once again going hard”. They call for accountability.

– Norwegian food is important for preparedness, but we cannot plan to transfer so much to farmers that it comes at the expense of all other occupational groups, says agricultural policy spokesperson Lene Westgaard-Halle.

Rødt and MDG, on the other hand, believe that the farmers have taken a sober line.

– Now the state must listen to agriculture. The governing parties have promised an increase in income, and after the vacillation in the Storting last week it should be easy to fulfill this requirement in order to restore trust and faith in the future in the industry, says Rødt’s Geir Jørgensen.

MDG believes that the farmers’ organizations have taken the Storting’s goal of self-sufficiency seriously.

– This requirement is so moderate that even if the entire requirement is met, many farmers will find it financially tough in the coming year. Now we will see if the government will keep its promise to ensure profitability and optimism on Norwegian farms, says agricultural policy spokesperson Rasmus Hansson.

The demand is the lowest since 2021, when it was NOK 2.1 billion. The farmers’ association pointed out that the Storting has decided that self-supply of food must increase significantly.

Smallholder association leader Tor Jacob Solberg refers to the demand as “sober”, based on assumed cost growth and the framework provided by the agricultural report recently processed by the Storting.

The Storting did not succeed in agreeing on an escalation plan when the report to the Storting was processed recently. The agricultural negotiations are thus getting under way against a backdrop of unrest around the calculations for the farmer’s income and closing the income gap compared to comparable groups.

If there is a breakdown in negotiations, the settlement will be sent to the Storting for consideration. And if the parties reach an agreement, the result is presented to the Storting in a proposal.

(© NTB)

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