Agriculture in Norway 02. May 14th 2019
Month of a Member StateNews
Did you know that only 3 % of Norway is arable land? – And that only 30% of this again can be used for grain production? Or that Norway is more than 2500 km long from south to north, so that if we keep the southernmost part of our country in place and turn the whole country around this point, it would reach as far south as Mid-Italy? But as long as we don’t turn our country upside-down, our northernmost point is situated at 71 degrees north …
We are proud of the quality of our food!
The quality of Norwegian produced agricultural products is in general good, and we are very proud of and happy about facts that the animal welfare in general is very good and that we use a very low amount of antibiotics per kilo produced meet. Only 2,9 mg/ kilo meet is among the lowest in Europe.
Most farmers have access to the market by farmer-owned cooperatives. Some sell their goods to private businesses, and some process the goods on the farm, sell more or less directly to the customer and thus get a higher price than they otherwise would achieve.
In the dairy sector more than 90 percentage of the milk produced is delivered to the cooperative. For meat, eggs and grain it is 60-70 per cent, and for vegetables approximately 50 per cent. Except some few kind of goods, Norwegian farmers produce for the domestic market. Still our self-sufficiency is less than 50 percentage on an energy basis and national food security is an important issue.
As in all countries, agriculture in Norway needs to increase in efficiency and productivity, but due to the Norwegian topography many farms never can become big. The number of farmers is decreasing, but the decrease in use of land is less than the decrease in number of farmers because farmers who are left expand their production by buying neighboring- farms, and by renting land.
Though we get quite a lot of financial support from the government, farmers’ incomes are often lower than in other businesses. Many young people therefore prefer to do the farming beside another job or choose to live on the farm but have a completely different occupation.
So why do we carry on with agriculture in our small farms?
One key is for sure the strong tradition of family farming that has continued for centuries. Another is that society and politicians see the different values created by the family farming, and they want to take care of it and to support it. To maintain and develop family farming we will still need political, economic and legal support.
Farming is a tool to achieve the highest possible national self- sufficiency and to secure long-term production of locally produced, safe and healthy food of high quality. It is also a key to provide public goods such as viable districts, cultural landscape and a broad range of other environmental and cultural benefits. The activity of one family farmer creates two to three further jobs. Many farmers provide different kinds of services on and outside the farm for other residents. All in all, the farms contributes significantly to the well-being, activity and economy in communities.
Only a low percentage of people in Norway run a farm, but many, many more are farmers in their hearts!
Acknowledgements: Text and photos by Tone O Mosebø, Stend Vidaregåande Skule – MANY THANKS 🙂