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Lack of targeted control in agriculture

The attainment of the Storting’s goal of maintaining an active and varied agriculture throughout the country poses substantial challenges and many of the sector’s environmental goals have yet to be reached. The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation uncovered weaknesses in the control exercised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. - The Ministry must do more to describe the priorities and considerations on which the current administration is based, especially in areas where there are conflicting goals, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 8/12/2010 12:05 PM

Document 3:12 (2009–2010) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of goal achievement and control in agriculture was submitted to the Storting on 12 August 2010.

The OAG’s investigation shows that there are substantial challenges related to reaching the Storting’s goal of maintaining an active and varied agriculture throughout the country. While food production is in accordance with the defined goals, the goals relating to production for the common good, such as contributing to settlement and employment in rural districts, protection of land and landscape resources and environmental considerations, have only been achieved to varying degrees. Agriculture in parts of Western Norway, Northern Norway, the Agder counties and Telemark is particularly exposed – for example in terms of farm closures, the farmers’ belief in the future, the share of leased land and unoccupied agricultural properties.

The goal of halving the annual reallocation of valuable agricultural land by 2010 has not yet been reached, and the quality of the agricultural land is starting to deteriorate. Agricultural advancements also make it difficult to protect various aspects of the cultural landscape.

If we are to reach national targets and follow up international commitments relating to soil and water pollution from agriculture, we must redouble our efforts. At present, we are also far from reaching the goal of 15% ecological production by 2015, and the deadline for reaching this goal has once again been postponed.

The OAG’s investigation uncovered weaknesses in relation to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s overriding control responsibility. - To clarify the basis for the current administration, there is a need to draw up more specific, defined and measurable goals to provide a basis for control and measurement of performance, says Jørgen Kosmo.

A significant portion of the existing grant schemes must contribute to realising environmental goals and goals for outlying areas. There is an increasing need for agricultural grants to be based on updated knowledge about where the discrepancies between goals and results are the largest. The existing public policy system is comprehensive and complex, and there is still a need to simplify the policy instruments directed towards agriculture. In light of the scope and complexity of the grants, it is also important for the Ministry to give higher priority to the effort to develop a more risk-based control system. - Under the current control system, there is a risk that errors remain undiscovered, says Mr Kosmo.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food refers to the fact that the challenges pinpointed by the OAG are largely in accordance with what the Ministry deems to be important in order to achieve the goals of our agricultural policy.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 03:12:00 (2009-2010), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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