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Paper: Ukraine travel ban on seasonal workers a blow to Finnish farmers

Finland gave permission for 1,500 workers to come to Finland; just 200 have arrived from Ukraine so far.

Mansikanpoimijoita pellolla.
Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Farmers in Finland are facing a setback in harvesting crops following a decision by the Ukrainian government to bar nationals from travelling abroad for seasonal work.

The Finnish government has granted 1,500 work permits for foreign seasonal workers this year, compared to roughly three times as many under normal circumstances.

However according to the farmers' lobby paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, Ukraine will not allow any of its citizens to travel overseas to take up seasonal work in Finland or any other country.

Last week one flight bringing seasonal farm workers arrived in Finland, but because of the new government decree in Kiev, it will be the only one landing in Finland.

Additional workers were supposed to arrive in the weeks ahead, but now it looks like farmers will have to turn to local manpower to bring in their crops.

"But now I also hope that producers get this message quickly. We will not be getting more people from Ukraine, at least for a while. We need quick decisions now because spring harvesting needs to start soon," Agriculture Ministry permanent secretary Jaana Husu-Kallio told MT.

Seasonal workers seen as essential

So far, just under 200 Ukrainian workers have managed to make it to Finland for work. They will mostly take up positions as foremen on farms in southern Finland.

Marko Mäki-Hakola, business development director of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, MTK, told Yle on Thursday that once the Ukrainians get to work, producers will be able to hire inexperienced Finnish workers with an easy mind.

Finland decided to allow foreign seasonal workers to enter the country in spite of its own travel restrictions because the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry deemed that they were essential for securing Finland's food supply.

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