Attention in Europe and the world was focused on the British House of Commons on Thursday (28 October) as Parliament voted on the principle of entering the European Common Market.
Attention in Europe and the world was focused on the British House of Commons on Thursday (28 October) as Parliament voted on the principle of entering the European Common Market. But the most immediate effect of the 112 majority in favour is on the three other candidate countries - Norway, Denmark, Eire.
Norwegian Prime Minister Trygve Bratelli described the vote of the British Parliament as having "provided a firmer basis for further consideration of the matter." As the Common Market debate no opens in Norway, Visnews focuses on Norwegian farming, with fishing the great stumbling block Special protection for her farmers is a precondition for Norwegian entry. This feature shows where the weaknesses of Norwegian agriculture lie, and points also to the brighter side.
SYNOPSIS: Norway -- if it enters the European Common Market....the country with the hardest natural conditions of the Ten.
In vast areas of the Fjord region in the West and all over the North of the country, a main occupation is farming. It's a battle against the climate and short seasons....and it's only won by combining farming with forestry work or fishing, and large government subsidies. The hill farmers with just a few sheep living on the coast are demanding protection...and it's a condition of Norwegian membership of the Common Market that they get it. Although twelve per cent of the working population is engaged in agriculture, only three per cent of the land is cultivated. That means that fast a few animals provide the main income.
With 30,000 of Norway's 40,000 fishing vessels manned by only one or two men, it's the same problem. In large areas by the coast, farming and fishing is the way of life. Membership of the Common Market as it is would mean less subsidies...and more competition. Result: no money, and a drift to the towns.
Not all Norwegian farmers will lose if Norway accepts the Common Market farming regulations. Some farms are large, with good soil, especially in the south and around Oslo. Their methods are modern, an yields are high, especially in dairy produce. But only 40 farms here are large by European standards, in number of livestock.
Organisation is their main asset. This board shows the milk yield for each cow over the years, with details of parentage Large quantities of milk are produced, some for dairy foods. for export.
For over twenty years breeding research stations such as here in Hamar, near Oslo, have made good yields possible, in milk as well as meat production. The best bulls are chosen from the progeny of Norway's elite cows, and their semen collected.
The semen is then analysed, and put into storage. The aim is to create a race of top-class milk and meat producers. The best cows all over the country are inseminated with semen from the elite two or three bulls of Hamar, and one other centre. Here, there are three million doses of elite bull semen. Result: Norway has long since outstripped milk yields in most European countries.
The same system operates for other livestock, such as pigs. And through the cooperative organisation, the cattle are collected from the farms, whether big or small, and brought to the slaughter house One hundred per cent of dairy produce is covered by this system, and eighty per cent of livestock. The result is that Norwegians claim their bacon is the best in Europe.
The system benefits those with most livestock. The small farmer, with just a few acres and a few head of cattle, exists only by government subsidies.
Much of the cost of the farmers is kept off food prices. The government guarantees farmers almost half the wages of the industrial worker before he produces anything. The population, who pay for this in taxes, understand the hard living and working conditions of most of their farmers - but the question in Norway is - does the Common Market Commission in Brussels?