Coupled support ensures the supply of domestic raw materials to the food industry
The food industry and the entire food sector are important employers in Finland, employing approximately 300,000 people or 12% of the employed labour force in the country. The objective of support coupled to production is to maintain a stable raw material supply to local food and feed industries. The viability of the vegetable oil and potato starch industry, animal feed processing industry, slaughterhouses and dairies depends on domestic raw materials. The domestic content of food manufactured in Finland is 82%.
Unlike other direct payments, coupled support is voluntary for EU countries. In Finland, coupled support payments have been and continue to be important for certain key forms of production to prevent the production from declining or ending altogether. Coupled support has encouraged farmers to continue, for example, cattle farming and starch potato production in Southern Finland. The decline in local production has also been halted in sheep farming, partly with the help of EU coupled support.
In animal husbandry, the risk of giving up farming is high particularly in Southern Finland. Due to our unfavourable climatic conditions, the alternatives in farming are limited in Finland. Coupled support is targeted at the production of cow’s and goat’s milk in Southern Finland and the production of beef, sheep meat and goat meat in the whole country. In arable farming, support is granted to starch potato, protein crops, rye and sugar beet in the whole country and to field-scale vegetables in Southern Finland. In terms of cattle, sheep and goats, the amount of support varies depending on where in Finland the farm applying for support is located. The following map presents the regional division applied to coupled support. For example, the outer archipelago in Southern Finland, marked with yellow, is entitled to the highest cattle premiums. However, the payments for, for instance, slaughter lambs and kids or field crops are mainly the same across the country.
Environmental benefits also through coupled support
Coupled support also has indirect effects of the rural environment. The production of animals and specialised crops deliver environmental benefits. Livestock production increases the growing of grasses and grazing. Crop diversity and crop rotation have a positive effect on soil structure and the living conditions of plants and insects alike. That, in turn, reduces erosion, nutrient leaching and the monocultural cultivation of cereals. It also helps preserve and revitalise the cultural landscape of rural areas and increases biodiversity.