31 March 1995

EU status is killing farming, say Finns

FINNISH farmers say EU membership is wrecking their agriculture.

Head of information at the central union of agricultural producers and forest owners, Timo Kaunisto estimates that Finlands 100,000 farms will fall to 50,000 by the end of the century.

"To keep people in the countryside we need to negotiate a better deal with the EU to allow more national government support," said Mr Kaunisto.

"Shorter growing days in Finland mean we cannot compete with farmers in central Europe. The average wheat yield in central Finland is only half that of Europe."

Support levels from the Finnish national government will decline over a five-year transitional period. National top-ups will be limited to farmers living north of 62deg latitude.