The organic development program plays a major role in promoting organic farming

Master’s Thesis in Agricultural Policy: Developments and Potential for Organic Production in Finland

In the government program in June 2011, the goal of the Finnish agricultural policy was to turn the share of organic food into a strong growth. The Finnish Government’s Increase The Organics Program aims to increase the share of organic production from 20% of farmland by 2020. Organic farmer Jari Yli-Heikkilä clarified the development trends and opportunities in organic agriculture in his study in Finland.

Research arrangements

The aim of the study was to find out about alternative developments in the near future of Finnish organic production and the future possibilities for the organics in the fields of cultivation, trade, processing, counseling and management in Finland. The study was carried out in co-operation with the market unit of the Food Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Food business operators shall have all the information they need about how different stakeholders see the directions of organic development.
The research is qualitative and a theme interview was chosen as research method. Interviewed expert groups consisted of farmers, advisory services / development / research, management / politics, and processing and trade. Twelve experts were interviewed. SWOT analysis on their responses was performed. The study examined answers to the following research questions:

  • How will the organic sector evolve in the future?
  • What are the means for directing agricultural policy towards increasing the markets of organic products?

The study results summarized

  • Organic is a growing and permanent course of the future
  • Direct sales and exports are future development targets
  • Organic sales volumes will increase
  • An organic development program is essential to promote organic farming
  • Organic farming should be visible and profitable for the farmer
  • Organic must have at least a reasonable price level
  • Producers should be committed to organic production
  • Public kitchens should be supported to increase the use of organic farming
  • The use of imported bread also increases the consumption of domestic organic products
  • The control is rigorous but important to the authenticity of the organic
  • Simplify and develop supervision in a more advisory direction
  • Encouraging and activating co-operation among farmers through organization work

Conclusions

An important aspect of the EU’s agricultural policy in the forthcoming programming period will be the measures on combating climate change and slowing down farms. The significance of carbon sinks, water protection and recycled fertilizers will increase. The organic consumer sees the positive overall impacts of organic matter and wants to be involved in influencing the well-being of our living environment. The Government’s organic program activates the whole organic stakeholder chain to co-operate in promoting organic farming.

SWOT analysis


Strengths

  • strong, positive trend, domesticity, social responsibility
  • the consumer distribution is expanding and growing, consumer awareness is increasing
  • ecology, good quality, environmental friendliness
  • ethical considerations
  • investing in health, cleanliness, good natural flavor
  • produced without artificial fertilizers and pesticides, less residues and additives
  • the increase in the number of different products
  • welfare of animals
  • increase in the number of growers, new challenges for the farmer, new meaning for work, possible carbon sink thinking, lessons can be utilized also in conventional cultivation, profitability
  • merchants committed and willing to sell
  • the government’s organic program provides a foundation for development, a great significance in promoting and giving direction to the future
  • organic support increases the transition to organic and decisive role in farm activity
  • control is important, active and effective, positive, enhances quality and reliability

Weaknesses

  • strict quality standards
  • too expensive for consumers, public purchasers, municipalities
  • the development of packing sizes and processing rates in the early stages, the supply of large quantities of food items to public purchasers
  • trade does not promote organic production, does not support farmer in cultivation, there is no negotiating margin in commerce
  • the advisory organization is old-fashioned and slowly evolving, lack of presence in the activities of farmers, organic knowledge through the organization is not realized
  • too low producer prices, fall in producer prices as production rises, price developments are uncertain, price competitiveness is difficult on the market, rising production costs
  • domestic production too small, too small market
  • strong support dependency in farm development
  • quasi-cultivation, non-binding to produce products
  • too tight control system, sanctions, control is carried out throughout the year, control increases costs, is overpriced, increases mental strain, is not fair, prevents organic production, organic regulation is interpreted differently
  • control of business operations
  • legislation is difficult to understand, there is a lot of room for interpretation, regulations come from the EU, farming is completely different in Finland, interpretations caused by different European production conditions, bureaucracy

Opportunities

  • production is seen as positive, domestic food is needed
  • food disasters has increased worldwide demand
  • related use, the demand for clean food in both consumers and public kitchens
  • the development of domestic production of organic milk
  • the price difference between domestic and imported organic
  • concentration on certain products
  • imports of organic
  • supports the reduction of VAT
  • co-operation: market cooperation, information, co-operation, joint grain dryers, rental of animal shelter, common cold storages, meetings of the organic chain, networking
  • research
  • new challenges, innovative cultivation methods and their development
  • better targeted and defined promotion goals, more efficient use of the resource pooled
  • activation of new producers, awareness of consumers and public users, and certainty of cash adequacy
  • an economic prospect that includes organic support, cost savings and a more expensive product
  • increase in production facilities will increase confidence
  • the convergence of sectors enables organic growth
  • positive environmental impacts
  • processing, good export products
  • processing and bulk order
  • better use of local products

Threats

  • lack of domestic organic supply / import
  • damaging the organic brand name
  • too large price difference between organic and the conventional product
  • EU farm subsidies / national subsidies / organic subsidies decline
  • security of supply
  • uncertain future of the domestic agriculture, poor profitability, lack of prospects
    modes are left unworked
  • drop in producer prices
  • quasi-cultivation, lack of harvesting obligation
  • large livestock units
  • included bureaucracy
  • control increases costs, mental loads, increases product prices, is overpriced, impacts on sanctions
  • Increasing construction costs, animal husbandry construction regulations, interpretations caused by different production conditions
  • too strict control requirements
  • demand for the transfer of whole farm to organic production, limited plant breeding requirements for organic production
  • processing and bulk order from the point of view of public procurement
  • imports of organic

Text:  Jari Yli-Heikkilä