Agriculture and farming in Finland main information
Finland is the world’s northernmost agricultural country. Finnish farmlands reach from the 60th latitude to north of the Arctic Circle.
Nearly all of Finland locates in the boreal coniferous forest zone, and 74% of the total land area is classified as forest land, while only some 9% is farmed. Of the utilized agricultural area, 13,5% is occupied by organic farming, which is higher than the total area under organic farming in the EU (7.9%).
Main cultivation areas in Finland (2021):
- cereal area, 1,063,000 hectares,
- barley area 448,000 ha,
- oat area, 332,000 ha.
Finland has over 33,600 km2 of inland water systems, or about 10% of its total area. There are some 190,000 lakes and 180,000 islands, almost half of the latter along the Baltic Sea coast.
On the southwestern coast, the growing season can exceed 185 days, but in northernmost Lapland it is less than 105 days. The average temperature for the whole year varies in Finland between +5°C in the warm areas and -2°C in the cold areas. The growing season starts in April-May and ends in August-October. July is the warmest month, and January-February are the coldest.
Finland has 45,630 agricultural and horticultural enterprises with an average utilisable agricultural area of 50 hectares. Approximately 86% of the farms are family-run. Of the farms, 70% have crop production as the production line, while 25% are livestock farms, and the rest are mixed farms with no single primary production line.. Agriculture and horticulture provide employment for 138,000 people of whom roughly 65% were farmers and their family members (Official Statistics of Finland, OSF, 2020) . Every other farmer has a degree in agriculture and more than 90% have a vocational degree. In 2020, one third of the agricultural and horticultural labour force were hired employees. The workload of hired employees has increased since 2016. A total of 21,000 foreign employees worked in agriculture and horticulture. Foreign employees accounted for one quarter of full-time and half of short-term employees.
On the level of the whole country, in 2020 farms’ average result from agriculture was EUR 16,500. The average result varied considerably by region. In Central Ostrobothnia the farm-specific result was highest, around EUR 26,000. Other regions with top positions are Åland and North Ostrobothnia with a farm-specific result of around EUR 21,000 and North Savo with about EUR 19,000. The result was lowest in South Savo, where the average farm-specific result from agriculture was only around EUR 11,000. Central Finland and Pirkanmaa were also in the lower.
Finland managed to develop knowledge and skills regarding arctic agriculture. There are bred varieties that do well in our cool and light summers. As an example, Finnish grain is in demand worldwide, thanks to its special characteristics and quality. Finland is one of the biggest producers and exporters of oats in the world. Other crops produced in Finland are as follows: barley, wheat, rye, patatos, sugar beet, peas, broad bean. Although the growing season is short, Finland has good possibilities to produce tasty food with high food safety. The total outdoor cultivation area for vegetables, berries and fruit was approximately 19,131 hectares in 2018.
In 2018, the greenhouse production area was nearly 400 hectares, of which vegetables accounted for 48 hectares.
In 2018, there were 3,407 horticultural enterprises in Finland. Of these, 2,708 farms were engaged in outdoor vegetable production, and 999 farms in greenhouse production. Some farms were engaged in both outdoor vegetable and greenhouse production. The average outdoor vegetable production area was 7.1 hectares per enterprise, and the average greenhouse area was 3,900 m2 per enterprise.
Satakunta and Southwest Finland are significant regions for outdoor vegetable production, and Northern Savonia is an important berry-producing region. The main regions for apple production are the Åland Islands, Southwest Finland and Western Uusimaa. Vegetable production in greenhouses is concentrated in Ostrobothnia, especially in the Närpes region. In 2018, garden pea was by far the most common outdoor vegetable in terms of area. Garden peas are sold with their pods and as frozen products. The pea area was 3,660 hectares. Measured by yield, carrot was the most important vegetable, with a production volume of nearly 73 million kg. Other significant vegetables were onion (1,120 hectares) and cabbage (540 hectares). Outdoor vegetables were cultivated under production agreements on 2,160 hectares. The main vegetables cultivated for the processing industry were garden pea, carrot and beetroot.
The amount of milk delivered to dairies in 2018 totalled 2,285 million litres In December 2018, the total number of dairy cows was 263,600,. A significant part of the fat contained in milk produced in Finland is used to manufacture export products. More than 60% of all butter produced was exported. Instead, protein fractions in milk are used in Finland. In certain product groups, such as cheese, a significant part of dairy products is of foreign origin. In 2018, meat production in Finland, including all farm animal species, totalled 393 million kg. Total consumption of meat was 432 million kg. The self-sufficiency ratio was therefore 91%,. In Southern Finland, the grazing season of cows lasts four to five months, and in the north three to four months. As the result of such conditions in 2018, a total of 27 million kg of beef was imported to Finland, and 4.5 million kg of beef was exported. The main countries of origin for imported beef included Poland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. In 2018, around 1.83 million pigs were slaughtered in Finland. Pork production totalled 168.9 million kg,
In 2018, poultry meat production in Finland totalled 135.3 million kg, the highest quantity ever. Broiler meat accounted for 93% of all poultry meat production. The production of broiler meat was 126 million kg , and that of turkey meat 8 million kg.
In 2018, egg production totalled 75 million kg. In total, 58% of class A eggs were produced in enriched battery cages, 33% in barn henhouses, 2% in free-range henhouses and 7% at organic henhouses.
Consumers and enterprises are showing increasing interest in insect farming and edible insects. Insects offer a new source of protein for use as food and feed. Finland acknowledged insects as food products in the autumn of 2017. There are currently more than 50 insect farmers in Finland.
Forestry is an important part of Finish’ economy. Forests are a major source of both economic and social wellbeing for the country. About one in seven Finns come from families who own forests. Finland’s forests represent the country’s most significant renewable natural resource. As the demand for natural resources rises, in the future Finland’s timber reserves are sure to become an even more important asset. Since forests have so many roles as a source of wood-based products, energy, recreation, it is important to ensure that their benefits are utilised widely but also sustainably.
During the 20th century the management of the commercial forests of Finland adopted the system of periodic cover silviculture. This means that silviculture is organised into rotation periods. A rotation period begins when a new forest stand is established and ends after several decades, when most of the trees are harvested before regeneration of new forest stand. During the rotation period, the forest is tended by, for instance, thinnings, which means that small trees and trees with little economic value are removed. This leaves more growing space for the remaining, more viable trees.
In 2019, the total consumption of wood material in Finland – 39.4 million dry-matter tons of wood . According to the forest sector’s mass balance, as much as 57% of all wood dry-matter used in Finland was used for energy generation (black liquor and other concentrated liquors, solid wood fuels in heating and power plants and in small-scale housing). The amount of wood dry-matter utilized as energy generation has increased.
Of all wood dry-matter used in Finland in 2019, 41% was tied up in forest industry products. At the turn of the millennium, the share was about 50%. After the recession in 2008, the amount of wood dry-matter tied up in forest industry products has been clearly lower than that used in energy generation. In 2019, 10% of all used wood dry-matter was tied up in paper and 8% in paperboard. The share of paper has been declining. The share of wood pulp was 10%, the share of sawn goods 12%, and the share of wood-based panels 2%.
In 2019, 15.2 dry-matter tons of wood tied up in forest industry products and 0,8 million tons tied up in roundwood and in wood residues were exported from Finland. In exports, 11,0 million tons were tied up in products of the pulp and paper industries, and 4.2 million tons in products of wood-products industries. Dry-matter tons imported in Finland consisted of 5.1 million tons in roundwood and wood residues, and 1.2 million tons in forest industry products.
Hounting is very popular in Finland. A total number of hunters is around 310 000. Of whom 70% are active hunters. Mallard is by far the most commonly hunted waterfowl in Finland, followed by teal. In 2020, 195,000 mallards and 53,000, teals, including garganeys, were harvested. In 2017 approximately 116,000 black grouses, 34,000 wood grouses (capercaillies), 46,000 hazel grouses and 39,000 willow grouses were harvested. The most commonly hunted animal was the wood pigeon (324,000 birds). The average bag of wood pigeons for one hunter was 12 birds. The hunting bag of raccoon dog amounted to around 168,000 animals, the bag of mink to 52,000, the bag of fox to 46,000 and the bag of pine marten to 26,000 animals. The number of mountain hare harvested has decreased for several years. The bag of mountain hare amounted to around 93,000. The number of European hares harvested was 71,000 animals.
A particular characteristic of the Finnish fisheries is created by the arctic climatic conditions. Fishing waters, and especially coastal waters, are to varying extents covered by ice for part of the year. This means that ice fishing using nets, hooks and traps is common in the winter season while the main fishing period lies between April and November. There are around sixty species of fish indigenous to Finland, of which approximately twenty are fished, including commercial and main recreational species, and one species of crayfish. In 2020, some 15.1 million kilograms of fish were cultivated for human consumption in Finland. The production of rainbow trout amounted to almost 14.3 million kilograms, which accounts for approximately 95 percent of the total food fish production. The production of cultivated European whitefish totalled 0.58 million kilograms. Other cultivated food fish species, mainly trout, arctic char and sturgeon, amounted to a total of approximately 0.2 million kilograms. About 0.4 a million kilograms of rainbow trout roe was sold for food. The value of rainbow trout production in 2020 totalled EUR 56.3 million, and the corresponding figure for European whitefish was EUR 5.4 million. In total, the value of food fish production amounted to EUR 63.1 million, which shows a decrease of approximately EUR 6.6 from the2019.
Apart from use in the food industry, fish is also farmed for restocking in natural waters. The total volume of reared fish fry of different ages, excluding newly hatched fry, is around 49 million. A total of 246 fish farming enterprises operated in Finland in 2020. Fishing vessels registered in Finland caught a total of 112 million kilos of fish in 2020. The total value of the catch was EUR 31 million. A total of 92.5 million kilos of Baltic herring and 12.5 million kilos of sprat were caught. Baltic herring and sprat were mainly caught from the open sea by trawlers. One fifth of the Baltic herring catch and more than half of the sprat catch were landed abroad. Important species in coastal fishing were European whitefish (0.4 million kilos), perch (0.7 million kilos), vendace (0.3 million kilos), salmon (0.2 million kilos) and pikeperch (0.2 million kilos). Catches of European whitefish, pikeperch and salmon were low compared with the long-term average (1980–2020), while perch and vendace had larger catches than normal. In coastal areas, most fishermen used trap nets and gillnets to catch. Fishing days, calculated as the number of days multiplied by the quantity of gear, continued to decrease. During the 2000s, the number of trap fishing and trawling days has halved and that of gillnet fishing has decreased to one third, while hook and line fishing has almost stopped altogether.
The crayfish catch totalled approximately 729,000 crayfish, with signal crayfish accounting for roughly 98%. The noble crayfish catch and the proportion of noble crayfish from the total catch continued to decrease.
The commercial inland fishery catch totalled 6.4 million kilos in 2019. In 2018, the total catch was 5.2 million kilos. The total value of the catch was EUR 17.5 million,. Vendace was the most important fish species in inland fisheries, when measured by the volume of the catch. It accounted for 41% of the total catch. When measured by the value of the catch, pikeperch was slightly more significant than vendace: the value of the vendace catch was EUR 5.7 million, while that of the pikeperch catch was EUR 5.8 million. Combined, these two species accounted for three quarters of the total value of the commercial inland fishery catch.