Norway to stockpile 82,500 tons of grain to prepare for famine and war

Norway is taking major steps to prepare for potential war and famine as the country kicks off a plan to stockpile grain.

Yesterday, Norway's finance minister, Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, and Agriculture and Food Minister Geir Pollestad signed a deal with four private companies to store 30,000 tons of grain in 2024 and 2025.

The companies involved will reportedly store the grain in existing facilities throughout the country, but it will be the property of the Norwegian government.

In a statement, the Agriculture and Food Ministry noted: “The building up of a contingency stock of food grains is about being prepared for the unthinkable.”

The government stated that the companies “are free to invest in new facilities and decide for themselves where they want to store the emergency grain, but they must make the grain available to the state if needed.”

They are apparently anticipating a potentially prolonged war or famine as they intend to sign additional stockpiling contracts that will help them reach their goal of stockpiling 82,500 tons of grain for their population of 5.6 million by the end of this decade. Pollestad said the idea is to “have enough grain for three months’ consumption by Norway’s population in a crisis situation that may arise.”

When announcing their intention to ramp up their stockpiling efforts last year, Pollestad told the Norwegian news agency NTB: “In a situation with extreme prices on the world market, it will still be possible to buy grain, but if we have done our job, we will not be so dependent on the highest bidder at auction. We can help keep prices down.”

This is not the first time the country has stockpiled grain; they previously stored it in the 1950s and maintained some level of stock before shutting down storage sites in 2003 when they determined that it was no longer necessary to keep so much grain on hand.

However, the Ukraine-Russia conflict appears to have given them a change of heart. A commission they established to analyze their emergency preparedness system recommended stockpiling grain again.

Is Norway a target for Russia?

Norway has been supporting Ukraine, which may make it a target for Russia, a situation that is made even more complicated by Norway’s oil supply. Although Russia may not openly attack Norway, there have been concerns that they could attack its energy infrastructure to essentially force Europe to buy natural gas and oil from Russia.

The defense company Kongsberg recently opened up a new missile facility in Norway, just months after the country announced it would nearly double defense spending in the years to come in response to threats from Russia.

Some analysts believe that Norway’s demilitarized Svalbard Archipelago could be a target given its ambiguous NATO status, which means that an attack might not necessarily trigger the NATO collective defense clause. The area is part of the western entrance to the Northern Sea Route and has significant amounts of coal.

Svalbard is also home to the world’s biggest seed storage site, known as the Global Seed Vault, where more than a million samples of different types of seeds have been deposited by organizations throughout the world to serve as a “doomsday” backup to their own collections in case they are compromised in some way.

In February, Norwegian defense minister Bjorn Arild Gram said that the country must be prepared for a potential conflict with Russia even after the Ukraine situation ends due to concerns over retaliation in response to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

“We must be able to respond in a timely manner and together with allies,” he cautioned. 

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