Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
The Finns traditionally earned their living from the produce of their soils and waters. Even though by the 1980s Finland had long been an industrial country, many Finns continued to see the hardworking farmer as an upright figure whose way of life should be preserved so the country would not lose contact with its rural roots. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries had shrunk to less than 10 percent of GDP by the late 1980s, but these sectors remained crucial for the country's economic security. Although only 8 percent of its territory was arable, the country had been self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs since the 1960s--indeed, surpluses of dairy products and meat caused serious difficulties in the 1970s and the the 1980s. Seventy-six percent of the country was covered by forests, which supplied the country's most important raw material--lumber. Agriculture and forestry had long been closely linked: most farms included forestland, and most farmers supplemented their earnings by selling lumber or by working in the forest industries during the winter. Although rivers and lakes covered about 9 percent of Finland, and the country had extensive coastal waters, fishing was not an important source of food or employment.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was responsible for policies dealing with agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Recognizing the close links among these sectors, the government considered that policies should offer integrated solutions to the problems of managing the country's resources.
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