Considerable discussion on the situation of Icelandic farmers

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Óli Þór Hilmarsson

Project Manager

Recently, there has been considerable discussion about the situation of Icelandic farmers, especially sheep farmers, and it was very good, for example. news on RÚV earlier this week. Low product prices and a difficult operating environment mean that many farmers do not make ends meet with the current system in this country.

In this light, it is important to look at what the peasantry itself can do and no less what the Icelandic government can do to ensure that farmers have a better opportunity to conduct their business in a lucrative and sustainable manner. There are various things that can be done that do not have to cost the Icelandic state anything, such as changes in the Icelandic legal and regulatory environment.

Farmers have long called for more liberal rules regarding home slaughter and the processing of valuable products on farms. Domestic slaughter is permitted today, but it is not permitted to sell or distribute products from the animals that have been slaughtered at home. A new concept, micro-slaughter, is home slaughter that is relatively small in scope, but valuable products may be sold and distributed to the public. This will create considerable income opportunities for farmers, not least because tourists who visit Iceland are very interested in buying products directly from farmers. In order for changes in the laws and regulations that allow this to take place, it is very important that a risk assessment is carried out. The consumer should always enjoy the benefit of the doubt, so it is important to get information about the potential dangers involved in allowing micro-slaughter at home on a farm with distribution or sale in mind. In fact, such slaughter is already allowed in Germany, for example, with good results.

Matís has throughout the years supported farmers in farmers' efforts for innovation, and numerous projects have been carried out with financial support from various public funds.

Examples include:

To ensure the quality of the meat:

  • Effects of breeding and treatment before and after slaughter on the quality of lamb. In collaboration with LBHÍ; RML and H.Í (and SLU).
  • Advice on proper handling from the mountain at the table of consumers to ensure the quality of the meat.

Product development and increased value of mutton:

  • Development of raw and fermented sausages from mutton
  • Advice for the Sheepmeat Marketing Council
  • Product development as part of the innovation of the Nordic bioeconomy
  • Approach to the construction of a handicraft slaughterhouse at Seglbúðir

Education and training

The Meat Book - Matís online education -

  • Home processing of mutton. The whole package

Seven specific courses:

  • Microorganisms in meat
  • Slaughter and meat eating
  • Sawing, deboning and marinating
  • Salting and smoking
  • Raw processing and sausage making
  • Food packaging labeling and packaging
  • Licensing, quality manual, internal control and establishment of companies

Teaching at LBHÍ

  • Faculty of Agricultural Sciences - Quality and processing of livestock products
  • Farmers' Department - Home processing

To ensure consumer safety

  • A study of the levels of polycyclic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs) in traditional smoked ham

The amount and effect of processing factors on the amount of polycyclic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs) were studied. The measurement method was changed so that it became more reliable, faster and more efficient. The concentration of benzo [a] pyrene (BaP) and ∑PAH4 in slices of ham was in all cases below the maximum levels in EU Regulation (EU) 835/2011. There was no difference in the concentration of PAHs in ham from meat processing plants and from small producers. The risk of contact with PAHs in ham can be reduced by smoking for a short time, cutting off the surface of the meat before consumption and by filtering the smoke with gauze. The composition of the smoke source and the smoking method had the greatest effect on the variability in the concentration of PAH substances in ham.

The food landscape

Matís is currently working on a project that involves mapping the Icelandic food landscape in a web-based form. This means that a complete list of primary production in Iceland is prepared and will be called Matarlandslagið in Icelandic and EatIceland in English. The register will show the number of primary producers and their distribution around the country graphically on the web and it will be possible to categorize them according to various variables and view further information about each of them. The food landscape web will be up and running soon. 

Designers 'and farmers' dates

The meeting of designers and farmers was an innovative project of the Iceland Academy of the Arts, in collaboration with Matís, where product designers and farmers were brought together with the aim of developing food products of the highest quality.

The research project was based on interdisciplinary collaboration where the design team and the farm work with Matís experts, chefs and Innovit. In the process, a lot of effort is put into creating a strong uniqueness and overall experience for the product.

Designers 'and farmers' dates

And more

Related material on agricultural projects prepared in collaboration with Matís