null Green economic growth is not achieved by hugging trees and picking the producer's pocket – Rural Deal necessary

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Green economic growth is not achieved by hugging trees and picking the producer's pocket – Rural Deal necessary


The Green Deal proposed by the EU Commission presents new demands on the agriculture and forestry climate policy and environmental protection, while at the same time both the overall level of the EU financial framework for a number of years and the financial share of agriculture are threatened with cuts. The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners of Finland (MTK) stresses the importance of the EU securing a strong agricultural budget.  In addition, the EU should be drafting a new Rural Deal as part of the Green Deal.  The new deal should provide solutions and additional funding for agriculture and forestry, climate and environmental actions to further bioeconomy and circular economy based on the sector, and deployment of new innovations.  With the aid of new financial instruments, the Rural Deal would help to create a pathway covering the different sectors for developing and regenerating rural areas that are ecologically, economically and socially sustainable, as well as offering young people opportunities for a good life in a variety of occupations.  An element of the Rural Deal should be an ambitious programme of using timber as building material.

The EU Green Deal is a step in the right direction in an effort to clarify the currently muddled and ineffectual environmental and climate policy.  However, it fails to take account of the fact that the agriculture of Finland and the entire EU is currently driven up a blind alley in the grip of increasingly tight demands and funding cuts. Despite this, agricultural entrepreneurs are committed to the European agriculture model, with the goal of most sustainable production in the world.  Finland stands in the vanguard of the EU with regard to responsible agriculture.
The MTK Board stresses that if the Commission fails to pay serious attention to sufficient rural finance and the social and economic fairness to rural regions of the new climate and environmental measures, there is an increasing risk that the reforms will end in failure.  The next few months are the last chance to remedy the deficiencies in the EU funding framework. Finland's Presidency proposal at the end of last year was on the right track, albeit insufficient. The resources for rural development must be increased, not cut.   
The MTK Board is concerned that the chambers of Brussels do not view forests as the bioengine of a greener future.  The success stories of forestry come from countries where investments have been made in the increasing use of timber, as well as in the strong growth of forests. Sustainable and proactive forestry have benefited both the climate and the economy. The foundation of EU policies on forests must be constructed from the knowledge applied by successful forestry countries. The most valuable and sustainable assets must not be left to the mercy of forest fires and insect pests.
Rural areas ensure food security, produce timber and energy, absorb carbon and promote natural diversity. The health of fields and forests must be nurtured every day. Animal welfare and food safety are secured by rural professionals.  These people deserve a standard of living worthy of human beings.
The EU must take care of our own food production and agriculture. In this effort, the Common Agricultural Policy is the principal tool.  The Rural Deal is necessary because the new rural opportunities and challenges must be resolved through new means and new, more flexible financial models.  Carbon sequestration, renewable natural resources and environmental diversity lie in the countryside. Without successful rural professionals and their expertise, a carbon-neutral EU and the safeguarding of natural diversity are a utopian quest.  

Further information
Juha Marttila, President, +358 (0)50 341 3167