Festival Season Has Begun

Finland, 24 Jun - 21 Jul 2016
Festival reports hitting the news ++ Farmers facing losses after EU-abolition of production limits. by Sarah Onkels
Festival reports hit the news

The Finnish festival season has started with mainly good, but also some negative reports hitting the news.

This summer the Finnish festival scene has something to offer for everyone. The most recent and certainly most unusual introduction to the national festival world is the Summer Knit Festival. The colourful event took place in the central Finnish city of Jyväskylä on a sunny weekend in mid-July.

Knitting enthusiasts were able to take classes, develop and compare their skills, meet fellow enthusiasts and purchase new materials from participating vendors. That the first Finnish Summer Knit Festival turned out to be a full success is no surprise: the old traditional handcraft has recently been gaining ground amongst young people, not only in the North, but in the whole world.

Tiina Huhtaniemi, a local yarn store owner who is among the hosts of the festival, stresses the depth of the tradition in the country, which becomes apparent taking a closer look in Finnish schools: knitting is still on the schedule and taught to school kids, showing them how to make basic pieces of clothing such as scarves or socks.
The Festival’s success awakens hopes for a continuous new tradition within the Finnish festival scene.

As July is the month for festivals, a wide range of other well-known events took place in the past weeks. Among them the famous Tuska Open Air Metal Festival being located in Helsinki since its founding in 1998. Children of Bodom, a Finnish melodic death metal band, were the headliners alongside Ghost from Sweden and Avantasia, a rock opera project founded by German vocalist Tobias Sammet.
Another famous, but significantly bigger heavy metal festival took place in Turku, Southwestern Finland. The Ruisrock festival seemed first shadowed by news about three suspected rape cases and two sexual harassment instances, of which the bigger part could be dropped. One reported rape case remains under investigation and one of the reported harassments has led to an arrest. However, in relation to the number of visitors the amount of such cases is relatively low compared to festivals elsewhere.

Another event worth mentioning is the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, which was launched in 1968. The Kaustinen festival is the biggest folk music festival in the North carried out in the Central Ostrobothnian municipality of Kaustinen. The event traditionally lasts a whole week and offers a wide range of music and dance on 27 different stages with ‘wind music’ as the programme theme.

Farmers facing losses after EU-abolition of production limits

Finnish farmers are facing great losses after the EU abolished production limits the previous year.

Throughout the EU Finnish dairy farmers are hit hardest by the recently abolished regulations. With a decrease of their net income by 40 percent Finland’s dairy farmers are experiencing an enormous fall regarding incomes making greater losses than farmers in other EU countries.

As a result workers have to work more to compensate for low prices and high production costs.
Juha Marttila, spokesman of the Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (Maa- ja metsätaloustuottajain Keskusliitto, MTK) stresses the direct negative effects price reductions in the dairy industry have for farmers. He points out that the food chain wouldn’t allow any flexibility within the range of a product’s selling price and the producers’ salary.

In 2015 the EU gave up on limiting the quotas for milk production. Following the abolition surpluses are keeping prices at a low level. The European Commission decided to provide a subsidy of 7.5 million euros for the Finnish and 350 million euros in total for all national agriculture sectors within the EU.

As Finnish farmers are currently facing a severe liquidity problem the grant is more than welcome, Finland's Minister of Agriculture Kimmo Tiilikäinen states. Another 150 million euros are going into a programme aiming to make dairy production exclusive.
Earlier the Finnish dairy market had encountered difficulties with the ban on food exports to Russia after the EU imposing sanctions on the country as a consequence of the Crimea affair.
According to Marttila an economic upturn within Finland’s dairy sector is not to be expected very soon.

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