Sweden Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Swedish Facts

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Capital: Stockholm
Official language: Swedish
Currency: Crown
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Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture in Sweden is highly mechanized and employs only one percent of the workforce. Animal husbandry and cultivation account for roughly equal parts of production. Forestry is extensive while fishing has declined.

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The conditions for cultivation vary greatly with the climate. In the south, the growing season is longer. Here are more large farms and cereal cultivation is common. In the north, farms are smaller and animal husbandry dominates. The number of farms has more than halved in 40 years, without reducing production. Swedish agriculture is now usually a high-tech one-man company. Often agriculture itself is combined with forestry, three farms out of four also have forestry.

Milk is the single largest product and accounts for one fifth of the value in the sector. Breeding of cattle, pigs or poultry is common. Wheat, oilseeds and sugar beets are common crops in the south. In the north, barley and oats are more common. For Sweden defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.

Agriculture was previously protected by domestic market rules and border protection. The Riksdag decided on a major liberalization in 1990, but the EU membership in 1995 instead led Sweden to adapt to the EU’s strictly regulated agricultural policy. Within the EU, Sweden has continued to work towards liberalizing agriculture.

The farmers’ economic associations and cooperatives own most of the agricultural processing industry. Almost all dairies are farmer-owned and in grain management, the farmer cooperative is a leader.

Two-thirds of Sweden’s land area is covered by forest, which to 80 percent consists of spruce and pine. Most of the forest is privately owned, but the state, through Sveaskog, is the largest individual owner with a share of 14 percent of the forest. Modern mechanized forestry has harvested large parts of the old natural forests and sensitive mountainous forests. In recent years, the number of national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas has increased with the help of new laws on biodiversity and sustainable development and the EU program Natura 2000.

The fishing industry has major problems, as in many other countries, and the number of Swedish fishermen has fallen sharply, to about 1,500 in 2017. Environmental degradation and overfishing are major problems, not least in the sensitive Baltic Sea. Important fish species are crustacean, herring, cod, mackerel, sea lobster and shrimp.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

1.0 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

7.4 percent (2016)



Chinese business trips are canceled

December 20

Two large business delegations who would have visited Sweden have canceled their trips, says Ambassador Gui Congyou. The background is the government’s handling of the Tucholsky Prize in November. Beijing had earlier in December canceled a planned visit to Stockholm when trade issues would have been discussed. China has no plans to resume any talks, according to Gui Congyou, who says it is up to Sweden to act.

Ericsson telecom giant pays billion fines

December 7

Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson has agreed to pay over one billion US dollars to US authorities, after admitting corruption. During the years 2000 to 2016, Ericsson paid bribes for contracts in five countries (Djibouti, Indonesia, China, Kuwait and Vietnam). US law allows prosecution for bribery if US dollars have been involved, or the insured companies have an account with a US bank. The settlement amount is one of the highest paid out under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm says the bribery has been committed by managers who act on their own initiative.


Chinese criticism against Swedish minister

November 18

The Chinese government has criticized Amanda Lind’s cultural minister since she participated in the award ceremony of the Swedish Pens Tucholsky Prize, when it was awarded to Swedish-Chinese publisher Gui Minhai. China demands respect for its legislation, according to a statement at a press conference at the Beijing Foreign Ministry. Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm threatened with difficulties in relations if the prize was awarded and the ambassador said that Amanda Lind and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven may be prevented from entering China. Gui Minhai is imprisoned in an unknown place in China (see February 14, 2019).

Disbelief vote against the Minister of Justice

November 15

Justice Minister Morgan Johansson passes a declaration of mistrust directed at him by the Swedish Democrats on the occasion of a wave of violent acts. SD receives support from M and KD, but it fails to get the two liberal parties C and L who support the government through the January agreement.


Ann Linde new Foreign Minister

September 10

In connection with the declaration of government, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven reports that former former EU and Foreign Trade Minister Ann Linde will become new Foreign Minister after Margot Wallström, who the week before announced that she is leaving for personal reasons. Eva Nordmark, former chair of the central organization TCO, is appointed new Labor Minister after Ylva Johansson, who has been nominated as Sweden’s new EU Commissioner.


The Liberals elect new leaders

June 28

The Liberals appoint Nyamko Sabuni as new party leader. Sabuni and, among other things, Minister of Integration and Minister for Gender Equality during the years 2006–2003.


Minister passes a vote of no confidence

May 28

Social Security Minister Annika Strandhäll can remain seated after she survived a vote of no confidence brought by the Moderates. The background is that Strandhäll kicked off the Insurance Agency’s Director-General Ann-Marie Begler before April 2018 on what critics believe are wrong grounds. Begler herself has claimed that she was dismissed for political reasons, ahead of the election the following fall. The government claims that there were collaboration problems. The statement of disbelief is supported by KD, L and SD, but that was not enough to convict the minister. C chose not to support the distrust. The Constitutional Committee is conducting a review of the dismissal of Strandhäll.

Right-wing parties are in the EU elections

May 26

In the election to the European Parliament, S gets 23.6 percent of the vote, which gives 5 seats or unchanged from the previous period. M receives 16.8 percent of the votes and 4 seats (+1), SD 15.4 percent and 3 seats (+1), MP 11.4 percent and 2 seats (–2), C 10 10.8 percent and 2 mandate (+1), KD 8.7 percent and 2 mandates (+1), V 6.7 percent and 1 mandate (unchanged) and L 4.1 percent and 1 mandate (–1). Fi declines significantly to 0.8 percent and remains unrepresented in the European Parliament.

Diplomats expelled from Russia

May 8

Two Swedish diplomats have been expelled from Russia, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a reaction to Sweden having denied diplomatic visas for two Russians – in turn a result of the spy deal revealed in February.

MP chooses language tubes

May 4th

At its party congress, the Environmental Party chooses Isabella Lövin as a language conduit while Per Bolund replaces Gustav Fridolin.


Raid against Swedbank

March 27th

Police conduct a raid at the head office of Swedbank, one of Sweden’s four major banks. Swedbank is suspected of insider crime after it was revealed that the 15 largest owners received advance information that the bank would be designated by SVT for extensive money laundering in the Baltic States. The prosecutor also suspects fraud when the bank management denies that money laundering is occurring. The stock has fallen sharply since the disclosure of money laundering came on February 20. SVT also reveals that US financial authorities are investigating the bank. The day after the raid, CEO Birgitte Bonnesen is forced to resign, but the board is granted discharge at the meeting. Just over a week later, however, the Chairman of the Board, Lars Idermark, also resigns.

Press freedom organization criticizes China in Sweden

March 18th

Reporters Without Borders (RUG) calls on China’s embassy in Stockholm to stop the harassment of journalists in Sweden. The statement is a result of a series of attacks from the embassy against Swedish newspapers, Sweden’s Television and the news agency TT. RUG writes that Ambassador Gui Congyou appears to have embarked on a “crusade” against Swedish media.


Terrorist membership is criminalized

February 28

The government presents a bill that means that all contact with terrorist organizations will be illegal from 1 August. However, the law should not be applied retroactively, which means that Swedes who have joined the Islamic State (IS) but now want to return home cannot be prosecuted just for contacting IS. Around 100 IS fighters and supporters from Sweden are believed to be in the conflict area where IS has now been largely defeated. Critics of the law point out that it is difficult to define terrorist organizations.

Suspected Russian spy is arrested

February 26th

A man is arrested by the security police, suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia. The arrest takes place at a restaurant in Stockholm. The man is a Swedish citizen and researcher, and must have been recruited by a Russian intelligence officer with a diplomatic passport. Säpo should have been looking at the man for a long time.

The Beijing ambassador is called home

February 14th

Sweden’s ambassador to Beijing, Anna Lindstedt, is called home and replaced by an acting chief after it was discovered that she had a secret meeting with Angela Gui, daughter of the book publisher Gui Minhai who is imprisoned in China (see February 2018). Angela Gui has written that Lindstedt invited her to a meeting in Stockholm in January where several other people participated and which became “a remarkable experience”. Angela Gui should have been pressured to keep a low profile and try to persuade her father to agree to a settlement. After the two-day meeting, she contacted the Foreign Ministry, who said she was not even aware that Lindstedt was in Stockholm. In December 2019, charges are brought against Anna Lindstedt for her handling of the transaction.

The L leader announces a plan to resign

6th of February

Liberals leader Jan Björklund announces that he will resign in connection with the party’s national meeting this fall. Björklund has been party leader since 2007 and says it’s time to “hand over the baton” after twelve years.


The employment service notifies every third employee

30th of January

Around 4,500 of the Employment Service’s 13,500 employees will be notified, the authority announces. The announcement is a result of the M / KD budget adopted in December, and of the January agreement between S, MP, C and L.

New government is presented

January 21st

When Prime Minister Stefan Löfven presents his new government, six ministers are new or old. Among other things, Anders Ygeman, now Minister of Energy and Digitization, will return to a newly established Ministry of Infrastructure (see July 27, 2017). Former Minister of Industry and Innovation Mikael Damberg becomes new Minister of the Interior, while Minister of Justice Morgan Johansson will be responsible for migration issues. Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Finance Minister Magdalena Johansson and Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist are all in attendance. Five ministers are environmental partners and the rest are social democrats.

Stefan Löfven elected prime minister

January 18

Parliament votes yes to Social Democrats Stefan Löfven as prime minister with the numbers 115 yes, 153 no and 77 who abstain from voting. The Social Democrats form a minority government together with the Environment Party after an agreement was reached with the Center Party and the Liberals. The agreement, called the January Agreement, constitutes a political program with 73 points that the four parties agreed to implement during the term of office. The agreement breaks the Alliance at the national level.

Sweden Agriculture and Fishing