The government's ministerial working group on preparedness has drawn up a support package of 300 million euros for the agricultural sector to prevent any disruptions in food supply caused by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Finland's Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Cen) said on Thursday.
Speaking to the media, Saarikko stated that the package is intended to help counteract the effects of rising prices in the sector while also ensuring uninterrupted food production in the country.
The ministerial group, which was set up last week, met for the first time on Thursday. Its primary goals include assessing how the war will impact Finland, particularly in terms of the economy and security of supply, meaning the provision of essential items such as food, water and electricity.
The group is also tasked with formulating a plan to prevent disruptions to Finland's security of supply and to allocate resources accordingly.
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Government could increase agricultural subsidies, reduce taxes
"We have decided to provide 300 million euros in state emergency aid to food producers and Finnish farms," Saarikko said, adding that this is the first support package that the group has finalised, with more expected for the future.
"We have been looking for ways to guarantee strong self-sufficiency and domestic food production in Finland as quickly and efficiently as possible," the minister added.
How the package will be implemented remains unclear, however, with Saarikko suggesting an increase in agricultural subsidies and a reduction in taxes as the best means of supporting farmers.
Saarikko further stated that in addition to the Ukraine crisis, Finland's agricultural sector has been hit hard by what proved to be one of the worst harvests in several years as well as a sustained rise in energy prices.
She emphasised that state aid alone would not be enough to help the industry recover and highlighted how retailers, manufacturers, banks and consumers could contribute towards supporting domestic food production.
Support package for energy next
The government is also reportedly drafting a plan to improve Finland's energy self-sufficiency.
According to Saarikko, the ministerial group will meet next week to decide on a second support package. The package will primarily focus on ensuring the short-term availability of fuel for essential services such as heat and electricity production as well as the transport sector.
"In particular, the focus will be on ending dependence on Russia," Saarikko noted.
The government aims to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
The plan will reportedly include measures to increase domestic energy production, support the use of new technologies to replace fossil fuel, strengthen the availability of gas and improve energy efficiency.