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Minister Leppä attending a media event at Finland’s “From the Wild” exhibition

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 17.1.2019 16.30
Speech

Dear media representatives

Herzlich Willkommen, a warm welcome to Finland’s exhibition where you can get a taste of our wonderful environment and natural products. The Green Week partnership, expertly put together by the Finnish agricultural producer organisation, gives us the opportunity to showcase Finland’s image in the European market that is so important for us, just before Finland takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU and at this key stage of the common agricultural policy reform.  
 
Since 2014, Germany has been Finland’s biggest trading partner and the fifth largest partner in food trade. The value of our food exports to Germany is 88 million euros per year, and we are seeking to increase this figure considerably. German visitors are extremely important for Finland, and tourism is growing rapidly. In Germany, more trips than ever before are now being sold to Finland. Through our considerable contribution to the Green Week, we intend to promote the visibility of Finnish products in the German market and show how diverse the Finnish regions are as holiday destinations. The relations between Finland and Germany are excellent, also proven by Federal President Steinmeier’s official visit to Finland last year. In politics we are often on the same side: we defend a strong and unified European Union and rule-based international order. 
 
Finland is the northernmost agricultural country of the European Union, as well as one of the world’s most northern countries where farming is practised. Thanks to the Golf Stream, Finland is a very unique Arctic country. In agricultural production, our main industries are dairy and beef farming. Finnish farms are family businesses, as is my own farm.  
 
Finland is also a country of forests. Of our land area, more than 70 per cent is covered by woodland. We have gained in-depth knowledge of our forest reserves and provide easily accessible information about them online for anybody who needs it. This provides an excellent basis for the Finnish bioeconomy, as well as our sustainable and responsible use of forests: the rate of growth of Finnish forests exceeds the harvesting volumes. For every tree felled, we plant four new trees.  
 
In Finland’s exhibition hall, you will have a chance to take a closer look at Finland today: the distinctive characteristics of our regions and our local strengths, whether it be excellent drink, food or travel destinations. This exhibition illustrates the current megatrend of rediscovering how small size matters. Finland’s hall is a tribute to provenance and specialisation, as showcased by the dozens of businesses exhibiting here. I am particularly happy about this opportunity for you to enjoy genuine local colour and experiences, taste many exciting flavours and hear some great stories. I would encourage you look for the heart of each region and find where you can experience the greatest natural wonders, the most mouth-watering pies and the most unusual drinks. 
 
You will be guided through this exhibition by impressive images and flavours, also thanks to the national team of Finnish chefs who have used the produce on offer here to create the menus for our restaurant. 
 
Pure air, nature and water are undeniably Finland’s most important natural resources. They enable us to produce food and drink to satisfy even the most demanding of tastes. For example, our excellent Arctic oats, berries and fish provide delicious and diverse ingredients that may also increase your wellbeing. Finland is known for its high level of education but what is less widely known is that Finnish foods are also among the tops when we talk about freedom from antibiotics and salmonella in food production, animal welfare, or matters such as low levels of pesticide residues. In food safety, Finland is a major power that plays a more important role than its size would merit, even on the global scale.  
 
Ladies and gentlemen, our exhibition’s theme, “From the Wild”, also means tranquillity, space and opportunity to enjoy the natural environment that Finland has an abundance of. For me personally, this exhibition talks about our relationship with nature; how when you step from your garden into the woods, dip in the lake after sauna or taste the flavours of wild berries, porridge or elk roast, slowly cooked in a wood-burning oven, you can forget the rush and your mind can rest.  
 
My home region of Savo may be known for its talkative people but we do value silence in Finland. Thanks to innovative wood construction, you too can experience it in this exhibition. I wish you all a warm welcome and encourage you to explore the wonders of Finland, our country in the Arctic. Enjoy your stay! 

Grune Woche