Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Agriculture Layout

Sometimes the layout of newspapers pages results in very interestingly juxtaposed articles. This gets usually lost in the internet versions of such papers.
Todays Helsinki Sanomat featured an short interview with the Finnish Minister for Agriculture, Sirkka-Liisa Anttila, about her struggle to get the EU to accept, yet again, the so-called 141 farmers income subsidy. This subsidy is paid by the Finnish state (i.e. taxpayers) to compensate for the fact that it is more difficult to farm in Finland then in the other EU member states, that have warmer climates. Never mind that much of this subsidy will go to pig farms, like the ones of Mrs. Antilla, that as far as I know have all pigs inside, just like pretty much everywhere else. Anyway the article stated that the proposal is to provide, together with income-subsidy for "environmental measures", 129 million euro per year to approx. 29 000 farms. That is well over 4000 euro per farm.
This was (un-intendedly?) contrasted by an article right below about the economy in rural China. It featured an interview with a Chinese country side farmer, Jiang Jianzongh, who made some 600 euros from his cotton field. And he does consider himself to be in a quite reasonable position, with a small, but good house. Of course everything is cheaper in China, so one shouldn't compare one of the Finnish farmer's subsidies to a Chinese farmer's yearly income. For example, Jiang's daughter tries to get accepted into vocational school, which costs 500 euros per year, i.e. some 80% of the farms income. Whereas all schools in Finland are free of charge.

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