The Review of the Less Favoured Areas Scheme - European Union Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 493-499)

Ms Maria Rosander

4 MARCH 2009

  Q493  Chairman: Thank you very much for coming to help us with our inquiry into the LFA. Sweden is an interesting country because of its strong agricultural interest and challenging, if not totally severe, conditions.

  Ms Rosander: Definitely.

  Q494  Chairman: Could I explain that we are a Sub-Committee of the House of Lords EU Select Committee. We are carrying out an inquiry into the review of the LFA scheme. This is a formal evidence-collecting session and a note will be taken of what you say. As soon as we get back home a transcript will be produced and a copy sent to you and you will be able to revise it and take out any slips and errors that have crept in. Perhaps you would begin by giving us a general background of the importance of LFA in Swedish agriculture. I suppose you could start with the proportion of the agricultural land in Sweden that is designated LFA and the proportion that is eligible to receive LFA payments.

  Ms Rosander: Thank you for having me here. It is very nice. It gives me a good excuse to learn more about LFA as well.

  Q495  Chairman: We have all found that. I think some of our colleagues have found that too.

  Ms Rosander: We have good experts in our capital so they help us out. Of the total agricultural area in Sweden 48 per cent is LFA. Of that 22 per cent is mountainous areas and 56 per cent of the total LFA is intermediate, which leaves 21 per cent for specific handicaps. I have some statistics. I will give you the sheet so that you can look at the figures.

  Q496  Chairman: Lovely, thank you.

  Ms Rosander: You also had a question regarding part of the income that is contained in LFAs. We do not really have any Swedish calculations on how important the LFA payments are for the single farm income. We have the Commission's calculations, the FNVA, farm net value added; I do not know if you are familiar with that. Looking at those numbers which have been calculated by the Commission and not checked by Swedish authorities, the figure for intermediate LFA payments is 34 per cent LFA under the farm net value added, compared with 18 per cent for the UK and 37 or 38 per cent Finland, which is the only one with a higher percentage.

  Q497  Chairman: We have just had your Finnish colleague here.

  Ms Rosander: Yes, I met him on the way out. It is an important part of the farm income in those areas, or not a negligible one, at least.

  Q498  Chairman: Why do you not have your own statistics? I would have thought you would want your own statistics just to see how important the income was.

  Ms Rosander: I really do not know why we do not. We have a lot of statistics, so it cannot really be a data problem. Maybe this is confidential information, which it should not be. I am not sure; I am sorry[3].

  Q499Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: How much of your rural development budget does Sweden allocate to the LFA scheme, and what do the Swedish public expect to obtain in return for their investment? Is support in your opinion targeted precisely enough at present to deliver the desired return from the objective that you are after?

  Ms Rosander: I have a few more numbers for you. Fourteen per cent of the EAFRD budget is allocated to LFA schemes and, looking to the rural development programme, it is 21 per cent of the payments in Axis 2 in Sweden. The public expects that these payments will help to keep land in production, that land will not be abandoned and that we can continue with an open landscape and a landscape with variation. There are a lot of forests in Sweden and if we do not have support policies like this it will all grow into forests and the public expects to go out into the countryside and see open fields and pastureland and grasslands and not just forests. I guess you can say it is always possible to target more but I think we are quite satisfied. We have an animal link. You have to have animals to receive these payments in the northern part. In the northern part it is very difficult to grow crops. It is grassland; that is the way to cultivate the land, so by having this animal breeding link we pay for having grassland production which, as we see it, contributes to the objective. It is rather targeted since we have this animal link.

3   After the meeting my experts explained that the recipients of LFA-payments also normally receive agri-environmental payments as well as Nordic aid. This makes it difficult to calculate the proportion of the income coming only from LFA-payments. Back

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