Progress (FrP) leader Siv Jensen has stirred Norway’s farmers into angry protests after throwing muck at their competitiveness.
Speaking at Telemark municipality’s Seljord agricultural conference at the weekend, she revealed her Party will be cutting six billion kroner’s-worth of state subsidies and decreasing farming-favourable import duty arrangements should it come into power following next year’s general election.
She told agricultural-oriented paper Nationen that, “it doesn’t mean basis for Norwegian farming will be removed even if we do reduce tariff protection.”
“The move we wish to make in agricultural policy has to be seen in context, but I don’t think farmers should be so terribly afraid of a little competition either. All industries which refuse to adapt will die out,” she added.
Jensen admitted that numbers of farmers in Norway will continue to decline even after the present tri-partite coalition has gone, as she would like, but that they would manage better as the result of more freedom.
Progress press spokesperson Ole Berget explains to The Foreigner that, “we see many consumers and businesses are losing out because there aren’t many different brands of milk and meat products on Norwegian supermarket shelves. As a result, people in the east of Norway especially go to Sweden to buy them instead and shops in Norway have to close.”
“We also see our plan as important from an ideological point of view. Farmers in poor countries such as Africa need to develop the country and try to sell to the European market and more cheaply. We feel it’s important to help people in other countries as it is decisive farmers are part of the global economy.”
Siv Jensen’s remarks at the weekend’s agricultural conference reaped no applause from Norwegian Farmers’ Association leader Nils T. Bjørke.
He declared, “few industries have restructured themselves more than agriculture has. The industry has had a productivity growth of 6 percent a year. The challenge is that restructuring takes place at such a fast pace and has gone so far that a lot of topsoil is taken out of commission and natural resources are managed more poorly."
“The nature, climate, and cost-levels are on a completely different plane to those of most other countries’. Ms Jensen wants competition on different terms. We cannot win the contest when everyone else always has a head start.”
Meanwhile, in what farmers may also see as more mud in their eye, the Conservatives (H) would also like to plough away at milk quota rules and farmers’ cooperatives in favour of independent agencies.
The Party’s deputy leader Bent Høie informs Nationen that they are not against TINE (dairy products) and Nortura (meat products), but “on the contrary, these will lead the way when it comes to streamlining.”
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