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Friday's papers: Niinistö in DC, generational farming fallout, Finland's scooter mogul

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö is in the US this week, including an address at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Scootering has become a big business for Helmeri Pirinen. Image: Simo Pitkänen / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) covered the second leg of President Sauli Niinistö's tour of the US as he met with congressional leaders in Washington DC on Thursday. Niinistö said that during the day he discussed issues such as Finland's membership in Nato and Russia.

Niinistö is currently on a week-long visit to the United States, and earlier in the week he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Niinistö announced the meetings on Twitter (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

"Work continues in Washington DC. A series of good meetings today on Capitol Hill. Discussions on transatlantic security, Finland's Nato membership, Russia and Finland's bilateral relations with the US," the tweet read.

Niinistö met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho who is the ranking member (vice-chair) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

McConnell, in particular, has been an advocate of Finnish Nato membership. For example, during a Helsinki meeting with Niinistö in May, he assured him that the United States would quickly ratify Finland's application for membership.

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Generational gut in farming

Agriculturally-minded daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus (siirryt toiseen palveluun) carried a piece underscoring a trend among Finland's small farms. The number of farms passing down to subsequent generations is declining at a brisk rate.

While there are no exact statistics on handing down the career from generation to generation, the paper reports that in 2018, 447 farms applied for generational start-up support. By 2020 that figure had dropped to roughly 300 and last year down to 250.

The paper predicted that the number could fall below 200 this year.

Farms can apply for generational start-up support if the person taking on responsibility for the farm is below 41 years of age and if the farm's annual income is less than 15,000 euros.

Aulis Kuusela, a senior expert at the Finnish Food Authority, shared her concern over the current situation.

"This is already starting to scare me. Having only 200 farms change hands is not a sufficient number. Will production start to decline too much? Will we no longer be self-sufficient?" Kuusela told MST.

Kuusela has 20 years of experience studying generational change in the agricultural industry as a civil servant, and MST wrote that others should take her warnings seriously.

Kuusela attributed the decline partially to the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, saying that they have weakened economic prospects and reduced the desire of young people to continue farming.

Finland's scooter mogul

Seeing Finnish children and youths on non-electric scooters is nothing new these days, but apparently it's also big business.

Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) ran a feature on a scooter enthusiast who turned his hobby into a way to make a living.

IS claimed that Helmeri Pirinen is Finland's only professional scooter rider. His FinScooter store, located in Helsinki's Kalasatama district, had a turnover of 1.1 million euros last year.

Along with his store, the former Big Brother Finland reality-show star organises scooter competitions around the country and encourages new enthusiasts to take up the sport.

Scootering has grown in popularity and Pirinen estimated that there are roughly 80,000 people who enjoy the hobby in Finland today.

Pirinen is also quite involved with the international competition side of the sport. Last year, he served as the head judge at the world championships in Barcelona.

Following the inclusion of skateboarding in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Pirinen said he would next like to see scootering added to the 2028 Olympics. He noted that no new venues would be required to be built as the sport uses the same parks as skateboarding.

"Over the next few years, we need to show that we are really ready for the Olympics," Pirinen told IS.