HomeIdeaItaly, farmers protest against Coldiretti. #CleanSpades

Italy, farmers protest against Coldiretti. #CleanSpades

The farmers' protest also started in Italy, from 19 January 2024, but it stands out compared to the mobilizations in Germany, Poland, Romania, France (1,2,3) since it is also aimed against Coldiretti, as well as against to the national agricultural policies of which it - born from the ashes of the bankrupt Federconsorzi - has been the protagonist for decades.

The tractors have invaded the streets of the Bel Paese and the islands, on the spontaneous initiative of a multitude of farmers and breeders who feel abandoned by the large agricultural confederations, 'to help the agricultural world survive, because thousands of companies have closed and many others are exhausted'. An in-depth look. #CleanSpades.

1) Italy, farmers protest against Coldiretti and agricultural policies in Italy

Thousands of farmers, cattle farmers and workers in the sector demonstrated peacefully in various squares in Italy, from Sicily and Calabria to Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, passing through Abruzzo, Lazio and Tuscany. Spontaneous mobilizations express the intolerance of those who work in the fields towards a system that is not even able to guarantee the coverage of work costs.

Sales below cost they are the first and essential reason for the mobilization, as can be heard in the live interviews with protesting farmers. (4) But the most lively promoters of the initiative, in attributing to Coldiretti primary responsibility for the policies that caused the crisis, in turn fall into the viral deception according to which Europe is the cause. (5)

2) Coldiretti boycotts the protest

'Coldiretti does not deny its DNA of vile and parasitic attitudes against the agricultural world it claims to defend', the betrayed farmers state bluntly. (6) It is therefore not surprising that Coldiretti did everything to boycott the protest, discourage the participation of its members, and order silence from the media that are subservient to it.

The yellow flags boast of being'the only organization that has always worked to keep the attention of national governments high towards the agricultural sector, for example by ensuring and defending in every financial law, both corporate taxation' (so in Verona). And they distract the media with the crusade against 'synthetic meats' that don't exist. (7)

Coldiretti – through an interview with its president Ettore Prandini in the newspaper 'La Verità', now participated by Federico Vecchioni, managing director of Federconsorzi 2 alias CAI SpA (8,9,10) – has in turn reiterated the success of its agricultural policies , for the advantages he said obtained in the 2024 budget law and the effective contrast to the EU project to reduce pesticides in agriculture (11,12).

3) Large agricultural confederations, absent

Other confederations observe with detachment, without expressing clear and coherent positions outside of rare exceptions such as that of the president of CIA Lazio Nord Viterbo and Rieti Sergio De Gelsomino, who expressly refers among other things to:

- 'continuous loss of income of farmers', due to sales below cost, and consequent abandonment of the land. 6000 hectares of agricultural land already converted into agricultural parks, thanks to the PNRR wanted by Vincenzo Gesmundo; (13)

- 'failure to renew the contribution exemption for young people, increase in tax pressure on agricultural land, lack of support for mountain and inland areas which are seeing a continuous exodus and abandonment';

- 'continuous consumption of land without the implementation of a policy of reuse of the state real estate assets which have been standing still for years' and 'the neglect of the woods and pastures, which need the hand of man to be a green lung and resource landscaping'. (14)

4) Farmers in Italy, what representation?

The representation of farmers in Italy meanwhile seems destined to resolve itself into the Coldiretti - Confagricoltura diarchy, following the substantial dissolution of Agrinsieme which virtually brought together the agricultural organizations other than the yellow flags (Confagricoltura, CIA - Italian Farmers and Copagri) and the Alliance of Italian cooperatives (Legacoop agroalimentare, Confcooperative and Acgi).

CIA – Italian Farmers, the third pole of the agricultural confederations, seems to be attracted into the orbit of Coldiretti which has already taken over in Federbio. (15) In turn, Legacoop, the historic expression of the former 'red cooperatives', seems to be closer to Coldiretti rather than Confcooperative and AGCI. (16) While the Free Farmers had to rely on Confagricoltura for the management of the dossiers. (17)

Confagricoltura – in the wake of Coldiretti, which created Filiera Italia for a power alliance with the giants of the food industry and distribution, banks and electricity (18) – has in turn signed an agreement with Unione Italiana Food, the first industrial trade association, on 25 January 2024, to give life to 'Mediterranea'. (19) The traditional patterns of unions and corporations that once represented the individual sectors are thus being redefined.

5) Italy – EU, agriculture in shambles

Agriculture in Italy - despite Coldiretti's proclamations, and the great maneuvers mentioned above - is meanwhile falling into disrepair. Between 2016 and 2021, almost 4.000 farms were closed, while the UAA (usable agricultural area) shrank by 2,5%, as we have seen. The average age of Italian farmers makes Methuselah pale but generational turnover is almost impossible. (20) Even more so following the cut in incentives for young farmers, in the 2024 budget much applauded by Coldiretti.

It's not a country for young farmers nor for peasant agriculture on a family and cooperative scale, thanks also to the Coldiretti policies which hindered the rebalancing in the distribution of contributions, on the occasion of the latest CAP reform. Already in the period 2014-2021, a third of the total financing, equal to €150 billion, was collected by 1% of operators. (21) While 70% of agricultural companies in the EU have an annual turnover of less than 8.000 euros.

In Italy moreover, the Coldiretti National Strategic Plan for the implementation of the CAP had already been censored by the European Commission precisely for not having dedicated sufficient resources to small farmers. (22) Where, according to ISTAT (2020 data), as many as 800.000 agricultural companies have less than 10 hectares of land available. (23,24) And agricultural production in the beautiful country has decreased by 10% in the last twenty years. (25)

6) Priority #belowcost and #rightprice

'The production crisis of Italian agriculture is particularly worrying because the bargaining power of agricultural companies is being reduced in favor of other sectors, primarily industrial and large-scale retail trade' (Stefano Vaccari, CREA, general director). (25)

'The production cost must be recognized as the starting point for every farmer's income. And this amount must not be the one given to POs or cooperatives, but to producers, otherwise those who work in the fields will never have anything left to survive' (Viller Malavasi, COPOI, Coordination of Italian fruit and vegetable producers). (26)

6.1) Unfair commercial practices, the Italian anomaly

The 'supply chain agreements' stipulated in March 2021 between:

– large agricultural confederations (Coldiretti, Confagricoltura, Cia-Italian Farmers, Copagri, Alliance of Agri-food Cooperatives)

– ADM (Modern Distribution Association), and so Federdistribuzione, ANCC-Coop, ANCD-Conad, and

– Filiera Italia, the creature that unites suppliers and customers of agricultural raw materials, food products, energy and finance

have laid the foundations for EU Directive 2019/633 (Unfair Trading Practices, UTPs Directive) to be applied in Italy with ineffective methods, as we have seen (27,28).

This explains the Italian anomaly, in the regulation of unfair commercial practices which:

– excludes from its field of application (not only contributions from shareholders in cooperatives, but above all) the transfers of agricultural and food products to producers organizations (Legislative Decree 198/21 art. 2.e). In illicit derogation from what is prescribed by the directive UTPs; (Xnumx)

– entrusts the estimate of price index to ISMEA reports that are completely inadequate to provide timely and updated data on actual average production costs in the various regions; (30) and above all

– attributes to ICQRF the exclusive supervision of official controls in (contractual) areas that fall outside its competences and resources. With the result of no news of 'enforcement' of the legislation, in more than two years from its entry into force.

7) Coldiretti, is everything okay?

We have the right/duty to replace the institutionsthemselves when they fail (…) what is good for Coldiretti is good for Italia!' (Vincenzo Gesmundo, 25.3.21). (31)

The replacement of Coldiretti to the State and its rules has been extensively described on this site, in the #CleanSpades investigation. And lastly, the appointment of 'his' Raffaele Borriello as head of cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida is exemplary.

Italian farmers therefore have reason to doubt that 'what is good for (the magic circle of) Coldiretti' is good for them too. The unsuccessful results of the Coldiretti policies on agriculture in Italy are manifest, as mentioned in the previous paragraphs. It is also worth remembering and adding some further aspects:

– the Agriconfidi disaster (approximately €20 millions) and the dilapidation of the real estate treasures of the Tirreno, Emilia, Adriatico, Centro Su Agricultural Consortia in CAI RE (Agrarian Consortiums of Italy Real Estate) Srl, with economic damage of approximately €21 millions and the risk of further loss of approximately €12 millions due to tax evasion or fraud (32,10);

– the failure of the 'Gesmundo pyramid' which overwhelmed, among other things, the infamous 'AgriCorporateEurope'. With further losses for the aforementioned Consortia, incorporated into joint-stock companies (Federconsorzi 2) which eliminated their mutualistic purposes; (9)

– the subtraction, thus, of the means of production that once belonged to the mutual agricultural consortia of the farmers themselves and now instead belong to joint-stock companies (CAI SpA, CAI Real Estate Srl);

– the affirmation of a 'Coldiretti' monopoly in the management of files for access to European contributions in agriculture and rural development. Farmers and other recipients of EU funds are thus forced to turn to Coldiretti (or Confagricoltura, possibly) to activate the procedures and obtain the funding they are entitled to; (17)

– conflicts of interest and speculation on subsidized insurance in agriculture and various other services, including 'brokerage' on supplies to the benefit of Filiera Agricola Italiana SpA (33,34);

– the opaque management of the tender on supply chain contracts, within the PNRR, where the Coldiretti projects prevailed over hundreds of others and their awards were, among other things, recently confirmed by the ministry itself; (35)

– the policy of hundreds of 'ponds' and the inefficient management of the Coldiretti Reclamation Consortia, manifestly unsuitable to deal with the water emergency affecting Italian agriculture; (36)

– the acceptance of cuts to exemptions on cadastral taxes on agricultural land and to the contribution exemption for young farmers, in the 2024 budget law.

#CleanSpades

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. Germany, the great farmers' protest. Here is why. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 11.1.24

(2) Dario Dongo. European farmers, the Ukrainian question in Brussels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.1.24

(3) Dario Dongo. Sales below costs, farmers protest in France. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.1.24

(4) Farmers on a war footing in Italy too: the protest is spreading. Byoblu. 24.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/5haudxvv

(5) See the article cited in note 1, paragraph 8 regarding the 'farm to fork' strategy which has not had any implementation

(6) Federica Olivo. Pitchforks return to driving tractors. And they challenge both Meloni and Coldiretti. Huffington Post. 22.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/2p8m6fpc

(7) The production cost of meat from cellular agriculture, which has never been authorized in the EU, currently averages around €10.000/kg. The 'threat' of 'synthetic meat' to livestock farming is therefore completely irrelevant until a 'disruptive' innovation occurs on precision fermentation processes

(8) Alessio Mannino. Ok but who the fuck is Federico Vecchioni and why did he become a member of the Truth? Here's what's underneath. Mowmag. 6.11.23 http://tinyurl.com/2s3dp9u3

(9) Dario Dongo. Federconsorzi 2 aka CAI SpA, a bit of clarityGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.3.21

(10) Dario Dongo. Federconsorzi 2, 21 million euros burned to agricultural consortia in the bonfire of finance. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 30.3.21,

(11) Carlo Cambi. «EU enemy of farmers. Pact with other countries: no to cultured meat». The La Verità. 21.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/34wyajhm

(12) Dario Dongo. No to reducing pesticides, yes to glyphosate. ToxicEurope. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.11.23

(13) See paragraph 3.3 of the previous article by Dario Dongo. National action plan for pesticides, sustainable agriculture and PNRR. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.2.20

(14) Serena Bianchini. Farmers' protests, Sergio Del Gelsomino's statements. Tuscia web news. 22.1.22 http://tinyurl.com/2dy2w746

(15) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti to conquer the organic sector. #Clean spades. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 18.7.23

(16) Giorgio Dell'Orefice. Great maneuvers in alliances between agricultural associations. The Sun 24 hours. 21.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/yvh4msk6

(17) The Ministry of Agriculture has in fact decreed a Coldiretto monopoly in the management of files for access to EU funding in agriculture. See Dario Dongo. AGEA and MASAF 'Coldiretti'. The suppression of freelancers in agriculture. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 30.9.23

(18) Filiera Italia, the members https://www.filieraitalia.it/soci/

(19) Unionfood-Confagricoltura Alliance: Mediterranea is born, the comment by Federico Robbe. Feeding. 25.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/yp6yzpuc

(20) Giulia Pietrollini. Generational turnover in agriculture, the necessary turning point for the ecological transitionGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.2.23

(21) Edoardo Anziano, Paolo Riva. The ultra-rich of European agriculture. Irpimedia. 2.12.22 http://tinyurl.com/yurhd5j3

(22) Dario Dongo. PAC, the European Commission rejects Italy's National Strategic Plan. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.4.22

(23) 7th General Census of Agriculture. ISTAT. 28.6.22 http://tinyurl.com/3zhwebkm

(24) Dario Dongo. Food sovereignty in Italy, the ABC. Reflections and proposals to the new minister. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.10.22

(25) Stefano Vaccari (general director of CREA, National Council for Research in Agricultural Economics). The long crisis of Italian agriculture: today 10% less is produced than twenty years ago. Agrisole. 11.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/4nm88rwz

(26) Italian farmers mobilize on 22 January, the protest expands: "Stop foreign imports, we are penalized by the EU". The Giornale d'Italia. 18.1.24 http://tinyurl.com/4dw5thxp

(27) Dario Dongo. Unfair commercial practices, double-discount supply chain agreement. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 7.3.21

(28) Dario Dongo. Unfair commercial practices in the food supply chain, the protections that are lacking. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.4.21

(29) Dario Dongo. Unfair commercial practices, the woes of Legislative Decree 198/2021. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.12.21

(30) See point 3.5 of the previous article by Dario Dongo. Unfair commercial practices in the agri-food chain, Legislative Decree 198/2021. The ABC. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 26.2.22

(31) Dario Dongo. Public administration, loyalty to the state or to Coldiretti? #Clean shovelsGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 27.6.21

(32) Dario Dongo. AgriCorpoFiasco, Federconsortia 2, Agriconfidi. The collapse of the 'Pyramid of Gesmundo'. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.12.22

(33) Dario Dongo. Subsidized insurance, Coldiretti's business behind farmersGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 13.5.21

(34) Dario Dongo. Germina Campus, the Coldiretti holding company that speculates on farmers. #Clean shovelsGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 13.6.21

(35) Dario Dongo. PNRR and tender on supply chain contracts, Coldiretti 'ace take it all'. #Clean spades. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 2.7.23

(36) Dario Dongo. Drought, agricultural waters and the crafty little lakes. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.8.22

(37) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, the Agromafie Observatory and the Porsche of the Customs Agency. The documentGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 25.6.23

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