HomeIdeaConfagricoltura, 'governance' at risk

Confagricoltura, 'governance' at risk

Confagricoltura, the oldest agricultural organization in Italy, is preparing to renew its corporate bodies. The statutory rules are, however, subject to forcing which seem to exceed the limits of common sense, as well as those of 'governance', in a historical period of serious crisis for farmers.

1) Confagricoltura, Giansanti presidency

Massimiliano Giansanti he had been elected to the national presidency of Confagricoltura in March 2017 and renewed in October 2020, after some changes to the statute which had, among other things, extended the mandate of the bodies from three to four years.

The mandate of President Giansanti should expire in 2024, after reaching the limit of two terms still foreseen by the statute. Giansanti should therefore convene the Assembly, by October 2024, for the appointment of a new confederal council.

2) Original sin

President Giansanti he aspires to run again. An operation that is not possible, even if one wanted to modify the statute, since the modification would only be effective from the next council. Except for finding a quibble, in the interpretation of the statute and its amendments, to allow Giansanti to be able to run again.

Any doubts on the interpretation of the statutory provisions - according to logic and good 'governance' - should be dissolved by an independent law firm, the choice of which should be left to independent bodies. Giansanti instead decided to rely on the legal management of Confagricoltura and one of its trusted consultants.

3) Uncertain baptism

The 'legal opinion' above was then subjected to the baptism of the Assembly, which would thus have to take responsibility for its original sin. It is also doubtful that the Assembly can 'vote' on an 'interpretation' of the statute, but governance is not at home in this season of Palazzo della Valle.

The interpretationIn any case, it must be approved by a majority. And this is how Giansanti, with yet another bending of the rules, demanded that the vote not take place by secret ballot but by open ballot. In order to force everyone to publicly expose their position.

The members of the Assembly they thus passively accepted - with only the vibrant protest of the representatives of Brescia and Naples, and some abstentions - that the statute would be bent to the ambitions of President Massimiliano Giansanti, on 26 March 2024. A sign of the system's weakness, rather than a plebiscite.

4) Transition and permanence

The seven years past have had an extraordinary importance for Italian agriculture:

– in the European Union, the revision of the CAP has been joined by the great opportunities and threats respectively linked to the 'Farm to Fork' strategy and the 'Green Deal'

– in Italy, the non-application of the directive on unfair commercial practices to cooperatives, producer organizations and their associations has significantly altered the market

– the surge in energy and raw material costs, combined with frozen price lists and out-of-control below-cost sales, has definitively thrown the entire sector into crisis.

The Giansanti presidency however, it remained stable, in its composition (almost unchanged) and its policies, in fact always aligned with those of Coldiretti. Without picking up the signals and responding to the demands of the protesting farmers. (1)

5) Confagricoltura, what are the horizons?

Formed in 1920, Confagricoltura has always stood out for the effective representation of farmers, through the presidents elected in the individual territories. In clear contrast to Coldiretti where the only real leader is Vincenzo Gesmundo, and his general-directors apply his orders.

Stagnation by Massimiliano Giansanti, however, risks compromising the fair representation of farmers and territories. The 'his' Confagricoltura is compressed in the shadow of Coldiretti, which ultimately persists in imitating also in the 'Mediterranean' project, along the lines of Filiera Italia. (2)

'Changing doesn't always equate to improvement, but to improve we need to change', said Winston Churchill. And there is no shortage of talent for change, even in the various provincial and regional districts of Confagricoltura, for the presidency and the council. Before the membership base moves away.

6) Trip hazards

The forcing of the statute, it is worth underlining, exposes not only Massimiliano Giansanti but the entire organization to a risk of stumbling which could damage the excellent reputation of Confagricoltura. The reasons are simple:

– the assembly has no power to 'interpret' or derogate the application of the statute, nor dictate transitional rules different from those in the statute (art. 43)

– the limit of two consecutive mandates for the president of the association (art. 19) can only be changed through an amendment to the statute, to be expressly included in the agenda (art. 15) and decided with the strengthened majorities provided therein ( art. 39)

– the resolution adopted on 26 March 2024 therefore appears illegitimate and as such may be challenged by any member and without time limits, pursuant to the civil code (art. 23), since it is in conflict with the Statute

– consequently, the possible election of Massimiliano Giansanti as president for the third consecutive mandate of an individual may in turn be challenged by any individual member, with serious consequences on the image and continuity of operations of Confagricoltura at a national level.

7) Provisional conclusions

The cult of the single person in command that of groups is being replaced by the ideas and people they should represent. In a drift of democracy that has rarely brought useful results to communities, in politics as in intermediate bodies.

The task of a ruling class worthy of its role is to advance the interests of all segments of the population represented in the individual territories and create the conditions to form a new ruling class to better face the challenges of the future.

An invitation, to the members and their presidents in the area: fight with all your strength to claim ownership of the symbols of your associations and prevent the managers on duty from putting them in the background compared to their own egos and ambitions.

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. #FarmersUnited, the manifesto 2 March 2024. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 27.2.24

(2) See paragraph 4 of the previous article by Dario Dongo. Italy, farmers protest against Coldiretti. #CleanSpades. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.1.24

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