Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
Ms Maria Rosander
4 MARCH 2009
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,
Ms Rosander: Definitely.
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
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.
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