Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / Scanpix

Farmers want right to close berry picking camps

Following a record season for berries in Sweden, the national farming union, LRF, says land owners are paying a high price for berry pickers camping on their land.

Under Sweden’s right to roam law (allemansrätten) anyone can enter private land, camp, and pick berries, as long as they do not cause damage. However the system is not working, according to the farmers union.

“Landowners feel like they have no rights,” Jan Thorén, chairman of LRF in the eastern region of Gävleborg told news agency TT.

“They’re obliged to take care of rubbish left behind. There are no sanctions when the right to roam is abused.”

Landowners and farmers met Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask over the summer to discuss the issue and have called for a right to evict campers that damage or litter their land.

“When 50 people live in a camp for 50 days without permission from the landowner that’s an illegal occupation,” Björn Galant the LRF’s spokesman on right to roam issued told TT.

“It should be easy to press charges but it isn’t.”

Only the Swedish Enforcement Agency (kronofogden) has the right to order an eviction but the LRF says the procedure is too expensive and cumbersome for landowners (SEK 600 per person).

Most conflicts over berry picking camps have been in south Norrland and in the north of central Sweden where mostly seasonal European workers have been camping.

“There is a free market within the EU and it’s the government’s responsibility to try and solve any problems that arise,” Yoomi Renström, a council leader in Hälsingland, told TT.

“I have a feeling that this kind of problem is going to increase in the future.”

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