Government approves Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan - proposal submitted to European Commission
At its session on 16 December, the Government approved the proposal for Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan, prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The CAP Strategic Plan under the common agricultural policy of the EU specifies the agricultural support and rural development measures to be implemented in Finland in 2023–2027 and the conditions applicable to the measures included these support schemes. The main tasks of Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan are to ensure active food production, promote climate and environment smart agriculture, and strengthen the viability of a countryside that is capable of renewing itself.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä, who led the process to prepare the CAP Strategic Plan, is very pleased with the outcome.
“The process to prepare the national CAP Plan has been a long one, and I am very pleased that the outcome we have reached is a well-balanced whole. A key focus in the plan is on active and comprehensively sustainable food production and a viable countryside. In addition, actions taken both within and outside that CAP must promote a good state of the climate, environment and waters. These four baskets constitute the building blocks of a comprehensively sustainable agricultural policy for the years to come,” Minister Leppä says.
The proposal for Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan consists of direct payments under the common agricultural policy, sector-specific measures concerning markets in agricultural products, and rural development measures in mainland Finland and the Åland Islands.
In Finland, a major proportion of the funding for direct payments is used for actions targeted to specific purposes, including coupled support, support for young farmers and the new eco-schemes. Measures related to the markets will promote activities such as cooperation between operators in primary production.
The rural development measures include environmental payments, promoting organic production, animal welfare payments, natural handicap payments, funding for investments, support for project activities, business funding and LEADER activities. Other measures also included under rural development are competence building, innovation and themes related to digitalisation.
In addition to the measures to be taken in the whole mainland Finland, Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan also contains the rural development measures for Åland that fall within the competence of the Åland Islands. The plan was prepared in good cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the authorities of the Åland Islands.
Finland’s proposal is to be submitted to the European Commission for consideration and approval by the end of the year. The finalisation of the CAP Strategic Plan will require negotiations with the Commission in the early part of 2022, and this is also when the content of the national provisions concerning the measures will be prepared. The implementation of Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan will start in 2023.
Focus on active food production and climate and environmental actions
Above all, Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan addresses the national special needs and objectives in a way that is compatible with the objectives set at the EU level. During the preparation at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the main tasks of Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan were summed up under three themes: ensuring active food production, promoting climate and environment smart agriculture and strengthening the viability of a countryside that is capable of renewing itself.
“Our key priority is to secure the preconditions for domestic food production so that we can continue to maintain and develop diverse production in all regions of Finland. At the same time, we will take good care of the environment and animal welfare. In food production, it is very important to take into account all dimensions of sustainability, including its economic aspects. The new CAP Strategic Plan offers excellent tools to support this,” Minister Leppä says.
To promote both active production and sustainability, the opportunities available through the allocation of funding and conditions that guide the operations will be used in diverse ways. The package composed of the climate and environmental measures will be further specified and strengthened, and instruments such as the new eco-schemes together with the environment payments will provide a new and important framework for practical measures on the farm level.
Government decides on emission reductions in agriculture
When approving the CAP Strategic Plan, the Government set a target concerning greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture: these should be reduced by 29% by 2035 compared to the situation in 2019.
According to the official national greenhouse gas inventory, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture totalled about 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019. This means that, by 2035, these emissions should be reduced to the level of 11.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Emission reductions will be implemented through measures included in the CAP Strategic Plan and other measures, including measures taken on market terms in a way that also supports the efforts to improve the profitability of food production. This emission reduction target is part of the carbon neutrality target set in the Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government.
The process to prepare the CAP Strategic Plan included the environmental report under the Act on the Environmental Impact Assessment of Public Authorities’ Plans and Programmes (200/2005).
Broad cooperation and consultations during the preparation process
Preparations for the CAP reform to be introduced in 2023 began already in November 2017 on the basis of a Commission Communication. At the national level, Finland’s CAP Strategic Plan was prepared in broad-based stakeholder cooperation: in the past few years workshops and webinars have been organised, documents have been circulated for comments and an online survey was made at Ota kantaa.fi.
Various parties have been well represented in the CAP working groups: farmers, rural developers, environmental organisations, animal welfare organisations, consumers, food industry, trade, and administration and research.
The CAP Strategic Plan was circulated for comments from 2 July to 10 September 2021. The statements and comments were discussed in the preparation groups and taken into account as far as possible in the preparation of the proposal.
Resolving the key stages of the decision process at the EU level has been challenging for many reasons, which is why it proved necessary to continue the measures implemented in 2014–2020 during the transitional period 2021–2022.
The updated CAP Strategic Plan will be available on the CAP27 website at the end of the year when the plan has been submitted to the Commission.
Minna-Mari Kaila, Director General