The Central Union of Agricultural producers and Forest Owners (MTK) is an interest organization representing farmers, forest owners and rural entrepreneurs in Finland. In 2017 MTK celebrated it’s 100 years of anniversary together with 100 years anniversary of Finland’s independence.
MTK has over 316 000 members in local agricultural producers’ organisations and regional forest management associations. All of the occupations and businesses of our members are based on renewable natural resources and their utilisation in a sustainable and economical way.
Regional activities and lobbying are carried out by 14 provincial MTK unions and 59 forest management associations.
According to a recent study carried out by University of Helsinki, MTK is considered to be in top three of the most influential interest groups in Finland.
MTK’s sister organisation, SLC, has approximately 13,000 members and operates in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland.
What does MTK do?
MTK carries out extensive supervision of interests. In addition to agricultural and forest policy, the organisation aims to promote rural entrepreneurship. In environmental and land policy matters, MTK acts in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. Promotion of consumer interests has become a new area of operations for MTK: in 2007, MTK established the post of Ombudsman for Food Culture with the task of promoting and fostering Finnish cuisine.
The most important tool of MTK is expertise. With its expertise, the organisation has an impact on the international and national level. The key tasks of the Central Union include political and social supervision of interests: representing the interests of members in agricultural and forest issues, the concerns of businesses, taxation, financing and legal matters, environmental and land policy, and social policy.
Finland is the most rural country in the European Union
MTK aims to ensure that the EU agricultural policy will enable agriculture based on family farms, guaranteeing a reasonable standard of living for farmers also in the future. Finnish agriculture that respects people, animals and the environment is also needed in the expanded European Union.
Finland is a land of family forests. Two-thirds of the Finnish forests are owned and managed by private individuals. MTK aims to promote the economic viability of family forestry by having an influence on the forest and economic policy. The organisations for forest owners look after the regional interests. The Forest Management Associations serve forest owners in practical forestry issues and look after the interests of forest owners at the local level.
Entrepreneurship grows from the land…
An increasing number of MTK members are rural entrepreneurs. In addition to basic agriculture, one in three farms has other business operations bringing in a significant income. Rural entrepreneurship in MTK’s activities includes other business operations carried out in connection with agricultural and forestry farms and the refining of the tangible and intangible resources of the farms into saleable services and products. Rural entrepreneurs have diverse lines of business. These include tourism, machine contracting, bioenergy and the horse industry.
Environmental protection and land use
MTK also aims to participate in environmental and land policy issues. In terms of land use, supervising the land owners’ rights is one of our key areas. In addition to looking after the interests of entrepreneurs, active participation in nature conservation is emphasised in environmental policy these days. Sustainable agriculture is economical, preserving nature values and promoting social and cultural well-being between people. People making their living from nature have been aware of the importance of the environment for a long time. It has been one of their principles to respect nature and foster its productivity.
Finnish Agri-Agency for Food and Forest Development
FFD was established in 2012, in order to continue the Finnish Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners’ (MTK) already established twinning activities with various agricultural and forestry organisations in developing countries. The agri-agency was founded by MTK with SLC (MTK’S Swedish-speaking sister organisation), Pellervo (Confederation of Finnish cooperatives) and ProAgria. By establishing FFD, the founding organisations support agricultural and forestry producers in developing countries, especially in tackling problems of food security and ensuring future food production in a sustainable manner.
All projects are a part of the Agricord-networks Farmers Fighting Poverty-programme, and support the organising, networking and lobbying capacity of agricultural and forestry producers in developing countries, with the aim to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty. The recipients of offered support can be local agricultural producer organisations, forest owners’ organisations or co-operatives.
FFD projects are mainly concentrated in developing countries with long term bilateral development cooperation ties with Finland. Currently active projects are located in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Vietnam, Nepal and Nicaragua.
Several local branches of MTK, Forest Management Associations and Rural Women’s Advisory Organisations work as twinning partners from the Finnish side. Finnish experts advise and follow their colleagues’ work on a grass-roots level. Active twinning participants inform others about their project and keep in touch with their colleagues at counterpart organisations.
Most of the project funding comes from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland’s as well as from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherland, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France and Belgium Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid. In addition two projects in Vietnam and Tanzania receive funding from the European Commission with IFAD’s technical support. At the project-level we aim to work and cooperate with ongoing international Finnish bilateral initiatives. FFD also cooperates with other Finnish NGOs, member organisations of the Agricord network; and other institutions such as the Natural Resources Institute Luke, Finnish Environmental Institute SYKE and universities.