Labour (Ap) Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has swapped his high horse for his boots today. He’s mucking in and making a guest appearance at the farmers union’s (Norges Bondelaget) AGM in Lillehammer.
“I’ll be seeing you, in all the old fa(r)miliar places”
Stoltenberg is full of praise for Norwegian farmers. He’s proud they’ve helped keep the countryside going, he appreciates meeting them when touring the country, and he’s come to know their straightforwardness.
He also realises he won’t get a standing ovation for the past 10 years’ worth of pay growth.
“Whether you complain about this government or the previous one, you have to look at what the alternative is. If I’m replaced by Erna Solberg (H/Conservative Party) or Siv Jensen (FrP/Progress Party), all Norwegian farmers will miss us every single day,” he tells Nationen.
Kjetil Randem, Bondelaget’s public relations manager, tells The Foreigner even though things are better now, life isn’t just a bed of roses.
“This year’s pay settlement was better than we received under the last government. But at the same time, Norwegian farmers’ income level is far too low when compared to other groups in society.”
“Oh what a beautiful morning?”
Stoltenberg suggests farmers ignore the fact they’re behind on pay, and spread a little happiness instead. Life is good in the country, he claims.
“I’ve noted even the Farmers’ Union think they should be happier. It’s important farming reaps positivity. Many tell me that a farmer’s life also has many qualities that go beyond money. I’m thinking about what generations have built up, nearness to the fields and animals, as well as being able to live outside the city.”
Randem says it’s not always about cheerfulness, but drawing a line in the ground.
“We are happy and welcoming, but the Prime Minister has to manage to see that the union is fighting for better conditions in the industry. Occasionally, the temperature rises, and our position changes to one of confrontation,” he says.
Prime Minister's Office/FlickrBack on wages, Stoltenberg alleges things have gone in the right direction with ex ministers of agriculture such as Terje Riis-Johansen (who’s now moved on to CO2 from Mongstad instead of climate gases from the country).
“I know people are unhappy, but there’s no doubt that this government is doing what it can to maintain Norwegian farming.”
“How now, green cow?”
It has been shown the agriculture industry contributes to climate change. But despite both the carbon and rear-end emissions, the PM believes farming has part of the answer.
“But it’s quite clear agriculture is very important in the fight against climate change. It’s the forest. The forest binds carbon, and good management of the forest is positive for both Norway’s and the world’s climate bill,” says Stoltenberg, who has been called “king of the forest”.
The farmers’ trade magazine Bedre Gardsdrift reports manufacturers Valtra and Agco Sisu Power have developed a tractor that runs on biogas.
“The new concept tractor is a good example to show how biodegradable and biodiesel fuels can work together,” says AGCO’s managing director, Martin Richenhagen.
Farmers themselves are also conscious of the climate problem, and have come with suggestions and solutions of their own.
“We would like to phase out the use of fossil fuels within 25 years and be a net supplier of energy, but the government must contribute too. It needs to adopt an aggressive industrial policy that promotes renewable energy,” says Kjetil Randem.
Nils T. Bjørke, head of Bondelaget, believes bioethanol in tractors’ tanks is the way forward.
“Norway's total natural resources give us unique opportunities to succeed. In addition to letting us take advantage of wind, water and solar energy, farming possesses large energy resources in the form of biomass from agriculture and forestry. Tractor diesel tanks should smell of spirits in 20 years time,” he says in their magazine.
Why not spread a little happiness of your own, Mr. Prime Minster, and raise your glass?
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