According to Juha Marttila, chairman of MTK, the Confederation of Agricultural and Forestry Producers, farmers should be concerned about climate change, as it affects agriculture the most.
Hot This year, summer has put farmers all over Finland in a tight situation.
The heat and drought that followed the wet spring have led to the fact that, according to MTK, the Confederation of Agricultural and Forestry Producers, one can hardly expect even a moderate harvest for the autumn.
In many places, fields threaten to dry upright, and hot air has even affected milk production: heat-stressed cows may produce several liters less milk per day than usual.
Chairman of MTK Juha Marttilan among other things, these are the reasons why every farmer should be interested in combating climate change.
“If anyone, then the food producer and farmer should be concerned about climate change. It’s a big threat to agriculture, ”he says.
“After all, we as farmers would be stupid if we didn’t take it seriously, because we are the first and hardest hit by climate change.”
“We are the first and hardest hit by climate change.”
Second According to Marttila, the reason for being interested in climate change is simply money.
Already, in many sectors, the market is paying significantly more for products with a smaller carbon footprint. According to Marttila, the phenomenon will intensify even more in the food industry in the near future.
According to Marttila, climate action should not only be accepted as a challenge, but also as an opportunity to make Finnish food production a pioneer in sustainable development. In his view, success in the food market of the future will be built precisely on climate work.
“If Finnish agriculture and food production want to succeed in the future, climate work must now be taken seriously.”
Mixed At the EU and Finnish level, climate emissions have been declining in recent years. However, the same has not been the case with agricultural emissions.
According to the Government’s annual climate report, on the contrary, agricultural emissions in Finland have risen slightly in recent years. According to Statistics Finland, the total emissions from agriculture and farmland in 2019 were about 15 million tonnes, while the total carbon emissions from Finland in the same year were about 52.8 million tonnes.
A large proportion of agricultural emissions, almost eight million tonnes, come from the treatment of peatlands and the decomposition of organic matter on them – despite the fact that peatlands account for only a fraction of the total area used for agriculture.
June At the beginning, the EU-wide agricultural sector received complaints from the European Court of Auditors.
Court of Auditors special report According to the Commission, agricultural emissions have not decreased in the EU since 2010, although as much as half of EU climate spending is currently spent on agriculture.
In its special report, the Court of Auditors calls, inter alia, on the Commission to monitor more closely the effectiveness of agricultural subsidies earmarked for climate action, ie whether the money is actually being spent on reducing emissions.
If if nothing were changed, MTK estimates that agricultural emissions would decrease by 6% by 2050, mainly due to a reduction in meat consumption.
“It’s not enough pace, not at all, and we understand that. Measures are needed, especially in the field of peat fields, ”says Marttila.
Until now, climate policy, he said, has not steered the market strongly enough in a more responsible direction, which is why climate action has been left too much on the shoulders of individual farmers.
Now however, according to Marttila, the situation in the agricultural sector is changing.
The change will be brought about by the European Commission in mid-July, among other places published by the Commission new climate package, which in all respects also tightens Finland’s own emission targets. In addition, the EU’s common agricultural policy is being reformed, inter alia, to take better account of climate considerations.
MTK has also drafted its own climate roadmap, which outlines steps to reduce emissions by as much as 77% by 2050 at best. According to the roadmap, reductions of at least 38% by 2050 can be considered quite realistic.
Key ways to reduce emissions would include restoring peatlands, increasing farming efficiency and introducing new technologies.
“However, getting there also requires resources that cannot be taken directly from the wallets of individual farmers,” says Marttila.
Only 24% of farmers were prepared to make environmentally friendly decisions if it entailed additional costs.
Into However, according to Marttila, it can be found on Finnish farms. According to surveys commissioned by MTK, as many as 76 per cent of agricultural entrepreneurs in 2020 fully or fairly agreed that they have constantly strived to develop their operations to be more environmentally sustainable.
“That thirst for knowledge and learning is really hard right now. There are thousands of things on farms that could be done better, and farmers want to know where to start. ”
However, according to the same study, only 24% of farmers were prepared to make environmentally friendly decisions if this would lead to significant financial losses or additional costs.
According to Marttila, farmers should now be provided with as much information as possible about what measures they can take to reduce emissions the most.
“We need a concrete package on what to do first and where. Because money is not endless, we want to invest in activities that affect everyone the most. ”
Just in addition to measures to reduce emissions, Marttila said, the focus should be on how to better sequester carbon in agriculture.
“Especially in this respect, there is already a lot of leap in the industry.”
One of the biggest changes Marttila considers is the change in the world of thought in the use of farmland. Where in the past, after harvesting, the stubble has remained in the ground until plowing, the aim would be to grow more hay and other vegetation in the fields in the future between growing seasons.
“This provides nutrients and carbon sequestration, while preventing nutrients from escaping into water bodies.”
Finland and the climate action of its individual farmers will be wasted, according to Marttila, if not everyone is involved in climate action.
He is particularly concerned that the ambition of climate action would be lowered in other European countries as the Commission’s climate package progresses.
“In Finland, EU decisions are, as I think they should be, purposefully implemented in Finland, but elsewhere in Europe the situation is not always so good,” says Marttila.
“Then those countries that do not stick to what has been agreed together will gain a competitive advantage. And it shouldn’t go that way. ”
Second the threat, he said, is that the market will not keep pace with climate action but will force production to move outside Europe.
In particular, from this point of view, he sees the Commission’s proposal for carbon tariffs on products from outside the EU as a good opening.
“Without them, there is a risk that reductions in agricultural emissions will be achieved by relocating production away from the EU instead of reforming the sector.”
“Yes, it would achieve the goals as well, but it would be an unsustainable solution in terms of security of supply,” says Marttila.
Finally Marttila also wants to emphasize the role of the market in reducing agricultural emissions: according to him, they are the biggest and most effective incentive for agricultural entrepreneurs.
“In the end game, when the market steers production in the right direction, it’s pretty good to come up with ways to achieve even the toughest goals.”