The extreme drought of recent months has had an impact on the Swedish agricultural sector. The Government is following developments closely and continues, alongside government agencies and other actors, to seek solutions to the challenges emerging so as to alleviate the situation for farmers now and in the future.
Sweden has had a warmer and drier spring than normal, coupled with an unusually wet autumn, which led to poorer autumn harvests and smaller coarse fodder supplies than normal. This is adversely affecting agriculture in the country. Forage harvests are smaller and there are fewer pastures available for livestock than normal. This also applies to the expected grain crop harvest.
Government efforts and decisions
The Government has presented a national crisis package valued at more than SEK 1.2 billion, primarily to cover the fodder shortage and other loss of income that farmers are experiencing due to the drought. The Government and government agencies have also made it possible for farmers to receive some regulatory relief in this difficult situation.
SEK 400 million to improve farmers’ cash flow situation in 2018
To provide better opportunities for dairy, beef and lamb farmers to cope with the fodder shortage and resulting price increases, the Government is contributing SEK 400 million in 2018. These funds will be paid out as soon as possible, but no later than December 2018.
SEK 60 million in reduced slaughterhouse inspection fees in 2018
The Government will contribute SEK 60 million in 2018 to reduce the fees slaughterhouses pay for mandatory inspections. By keeping costs down at slaughterhouse level, the Government is facilitating reduced costs for animal producers, which may improve their cash flow situation during a period of major economic challenges.
SEK 760 million for further measures in 2019
In 2019, the Government will contribute additional funds for further measures to alleviate the situation for the drought-affected agriculture and food industry. These measures will be designed in dialogue with the sector so that funds can be directed within the regulatory framework to provide suport where it is most needed for the Swedish agricultural sector and Swedish food production.
Regulatory relief and application for advance payments
The Government and government agencies have reviewed the possibility of regulatory relief and exemptions that could simplify the situation for farmers. For example, Sweden has applied for higher advance payment of rural development support, the Swedish Board of Agriculture has given exemptions to organic farmers to use conventional fodder, and county administrative boards have in several cases granted farmers the opportunity to harvest forage and pastures in nature reserves and national parks.
The Swedish Board of Agriculture is actively seeking solutions to alleviate the situation for affected farmers. These solutions include exemptions from regulations, higher advance payments from support funds to improve cash flow, and more. For example, the Board has granted an exemption allowing farmers to take fodder from grassland that otherwise must not be harvested. The Board will be responsible for paying out most of the SEK 1.2 billion that the Government has presented to support farmers.