Agriculture has been a big part of Norwegian history. Forestry, fishing and agriculture used to be the main source of income to the Norwegian people. After world war two and especially after the discovery of oil in the Barents Sea this changed. Since 1969 the number of farms keeping domestic animals in Norway has been reduced by 378 percent, and the number is still going down.
Statistics Norway: Total number of holdings keeping domestic animals by time
The Norwegian government has taken some steps to make sure they don’t lose all the agriculture, and one of those steps is to add a tax of 277 percent on import of cheese to Norway. They do this to make sure that instead of importing cheese from the rest of the world, companies find it cheaper to just buy cheese made from Norwegian farmers. This also ensures that the prices on cheese can have a level which makes the cheese business lucrative to the farmers.
There are many opponents to this tax on import of cheese. As this newspaper article says, the EU has criticized the tax on several occasions, claiming it will harm trade between the EU and Norway. The European Parliament has made a briefing on the possible consequences of the rise in taxes, where they include a statement from the Swedish Minister of Trade, claiming the tax will lead to the loss of 700 jobs in the Swedish diary industry.
The opinion of the Norwegian people and companies are divided. The big super market chain says (Norwegian) the tax pushes the prices for cheese up for the consumer and the selection is worse than it would be without the tax. The Farmers’ Association in Norway, on the other hand, argues (Norwegian) that the tax does not harm the selection of cheese in the stores, do not raise the prices of cheese and other product in Norway and that the tax is vital to the survival of almost 10.000 milk farmers.
Is this tax to the benefit of the Norwegian people? It all comes down to what people in Norway prefer. Do they want competitive prices and more imported products like cheese, or do they want Norwegian products to a higher price? The University of Stavanger (Norwegian), based on a survey for a doctoral thesis, writes that 57 percent of people in the survey said they would pick Norwegian food instead of imported international food if possible, and 65 percent thinks the Norwegian food is safer to eat than food from other countries. This can indicate that the Norwegian food market can withstand an increase in competition in the market. If so, is there any point in having this regulation?