Farmers block egg deliveries

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Norwegian farmers announced plans Wednesday night to block deliveries of eggs from all nine egg-packing packing plants around Norway Thursday morning. It’s their latest means of protesting the state’s refusal to give them more than NOK 13.15 billion in state support.

Nortura's egg-packing plant at Rakkestad is among those due to be hit by farmers' blockades on Thursday. The farmers own Nortura, which serves as their market regulator, setting production and prices in Norway. A dozen eggs in Norway currently costs between NOK 40 and 50 (USD 6.60 and 8.30) and the farmers are demanding higher income. PHOTO: Nortura

Nortura’s egg-packing plant at Rakkestad is among those due to be hit by farmers’ blockades on Thursday. The farmers own Nortura, which serves as their market regulator, setting production and prices in Norway. A dozen eggs in Norway currently costs between NOK 40 and 50 (USD 6.60 and 8.30) and the farmers are demanding higher income. PHOTO: Nortura

It’s not easy to understand why the farmers think that causing problems for consumers and the general public will win them more sympathy. They spent much of Wednesday driving their tractors slowly on major highways and through town and city centers to create traffic congestion, and they also have held noisy rallies and even burned down a barn. That resulted in a citation from police.

Nils T Bjørke, the leader of the farmers’ organization Norsk Bondelag, claimed the farmers simply want to stress the point that production and delivery of food is nothing that should be taken for granted.

“It can happen that there will be egg shortages at the stores in the days to come,” Bjørke told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He suggested that consumers may want to buy an extra carton or two of eggs, “so you’ll have better chances of having enough eggs for the 17th of May (when many Norwegians assemble early for breakfast parties).”

He confirmed that Bondelag members will set up blockades Thursday morning at the following egg-packing plants: Rias-egg in Levanger, Nortura Heimdal in Trondheim, Nilsen Hønseri in Roan, Toten Egg in Lena, Nortura in Hå, Jæregg in Klepp, Meling in Stavanger, Den Stolte Hane Egg (Cardinal Foods) in Ski and Nortura in Rakkestad.

“This is mostly a symbolic act to show that if you don’t have active farmers … you won’t get good products in the stores,” Bjørke claimed.

The farmers, however, risk irritating the consumers and taxpayers who actually feed them, through a government that already is subsidizing them to the tune of NOK 13 billion (USD 2.16 billion) a year. They got angry when Agriculture Minister Sylvi Listhaug refused to offer them more than another NOK 150 million on Tuesday, and broke off negotiations. Listhaug claims she’s just trying to reform heavily subsidized agriculture, to increase food production by easing production regulations.

She had no immediate comment on the looming egg blockade. NRK reported that in Arendal, farmers bought up all the beer in local stores to demonstrate the effect of shortages of a particular product. Bjørke’s organization claimed it was not involved in the beer protest.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund