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Finland and EU Reach Agreement on Farm Subsidies

Finland and the EU reached an agreement on the future of domestic agricultural subsidies through the year 2013 on Tuesday. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sirkka-Liisa Anttila met with EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel in Brussels to discuss continuing the support for farmers in southern Finland. According to Anttila, the main sticking point during talks concerned the level of support offered during the year 2013. Next year, nearly 94 million euros will be granted to farmers in southern Finland. By 2013, support will be just 62.9 million euros. However, Less Favoured Area (LFA) subsidies will help compensate for the cuts. During the first four years of the national subsidies, funds will decrease on average by 2.7 percent annually. In the final two years, support will be cut more drastically. The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) said it is very disappointed by the decision to cut subsidies. The union said pig and poultry farmers will be the most affected by the loss of support. Anttila said the final result is reasonable, considering the difficulty of the negotiations. Thousands of Finnish Farmers Subsidy Recipients Under Article 141 of Finland's EU accession treaty, Finland was temporarily allowed to pay domestic subsidies to its farmers in the south of the country. Last week, Finland and the EU agreed Finland would be allowed to continue the subsidies, but the schedule to phase out the temporary supports was left for this week's talks. About 7,000 farms in the south of Finland raising dairy cattle, poultry, and pork receive subsidies under Article 141. While the funds for the subsidies come from Finnish taxpayers, and not the EU, there have been objections from Swedish farmers who say that they distort competition. YLE

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