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FARMING

Norwegian firm warns high gas prices could impact food production

Soaring prices for natural gas, a key feedstock for producing chemical fertilisers, will weigh on food production and security, a major Norwegian manufacturer warned Wednesday.

Rising gas prices could make food more expensive, Norwegian firm Yara has said. Pictured is the fruit isle on supermarket shelves.
Rising gas prices could make food more expensive, Norwegian firm Yara has said. Pictured is the fruit isle on supermarket shelves.Photo by gemma on Unsplash

Norway-based Yara said that a near fifteenfold rise in European natural gas prices had forced it to reduce its production of ammonia, a key fertiliser component.

“European nitrogen production is essential to global food security, and we are therefore concerned about the impact current European natural gas prices will have, especially for the world’s poorest regions,” chief executive Svein Tore Holsether said in a statement.

As prices for fertilisers rise in the wake of those for natural gas, farmers will be tempted and perhaps forced to cut back on their use. As a consequence, production of food crops could drop.

Holsether pledged Yara will do its utmost to supply farmers and support global food production.

However, he said, “the current situation clearly demonstrates the need for more resilient food supply chains” and called on both government and industry to work together to secure the global food supply.

Rising prices helped Yara’s results overall in the third quarter, with headline sales rising by 46 percent to nearly $4.5 billion.

Operating earnings also improved, but adverse currency effects and writing down the value of a phosphate mining project pushed the firm into a net loss of $143 million.

It earned a net profit of $340 million in the third quarter. Yara shares were up 1.5 percent in afternoon trading, while the main OBX  index was up 1.4 percent.

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FARMING

How Norway’s wind farms are harming reindeer herders

Norway's Supreme Court on Monday ruled that two wind parks built in the country's west were harming reindeer herders from the Sami people by encroaching on their pastures. Here's what you need to know.

The court ruled that the wind park was harming the sami people. Pictured is a Sami woman and a reindeer.
The court ruled that the wind park was harming the sami people. Pictured is a Sami woman and a reindeer. Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

Norway’s Supreme Court has ruled the indigenous Sami people were harmed by two wind farms in western Norway. It is not immediately clear what the consequences of the finding will be. But lawyers for the herders say the 151 turbines completed on the Fosen peninsula in 2020 — part of the biggest land-based wind park in Europe — could be torn down.

“Their construction has been declared illegal, and it would be illegal to continue operating them,” said Andreas Bronner, who represented a group of herders alleging harm from one of the two parks.

Ole Berthelsen, a spokesman for Norway’s ministry for oil and energy, said that “the Supreme Court verdict creates a need to clarify the situation”, adding it would “communicate later about what to do next”.

The judges declared the licences issued by the ministry to build and operate the turbines void, saying they violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The UN text’s Article 27 states that ethnic minorities “shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.”

Traditional Sami reindeer herding is a form of protected cultural practice, the Norwegian court found.

READ ALSO: Ten beautiful Sámi words that you might not have heard before

“Of course, this is a surprise to us,” said Tom Kristian Larsen, head of Fosen Vind, which operates one of the wind farms.

“We based our action on definitive licences granted us by the authorities after a long and detailed process that heard from all parties,” he added.

“Special importance was given to reindeer herding,” he said. 

The company said it would now wait for the ministry’s decision on next steps.

The Sami people number up to 100,000 people spread across Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia. Some of them make a living from raising semi-domesticated reindeer for their meat and hides.

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