HomeIdeaDL agriculture, yet another mockery of Lollobrigida

DL agriculture, yet another mockery of Lollobrigida

Almost five months after the start of the Italian farmers' protest - but above all, one month before the European elections - Minister Francesco Lollobrigida announces a decree law to 'remedy' their problems.

However, the pre-election maneuver unfortunately represents yet another mockery of the operators of the primary sector, as well as those of food processing. Following is the analysis of the draft decree.

1) Sales below cost, unfair commercial practices, no protection

The regulation of unfair commercial practices remains unchanged in its abominable shortcomings:

– tolerance of #below-cost sales (i.e. sales of agricultural and food products at prices lower than their production costs), which should instead be subjected to a mandatory ban

– exclusion of contributions to cooperatives, producer organizations and their associations (PO, AOP) from the set of rules protecting producers.

The writer has already reported these aspects to the European Commission, highlighting how the last-mentioned exemption is in clear contrast with the Unfair Trading Practices Directive (EU) 2019/633. (1)

1.1) Mocking farmers and food processing companies

Instead of resolving the two issues mentioned above - which, as has been demonstrated in the fruit and vegetable sector, represent the main cause of the agricultural crisis in Italy (2) - Giorgia Meloni's government mocks farmers and food processing companies in Italy with a imperceptible 'cosmetics' to Legislative Decree 198/21:

– the concept of 'is introducedaverage production cost', entrusting ISMEA (Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market) with the criteria for its estimate

- the 'production cost' is defined as 'the cost relating to the use of raw materials, factors, both fixed and variable, and services necessary for the production process carried out with the techniques prevalent in the reference area' (new article 2.1.q)

– to the general principles of contracts for the sale of agricultural and food commodities is added that according to which 'the prices of the goods supplied take into account production costs' referred to in the previous point

– the contractual clauses left to the negotiating autonomy include the pricesestablished in compliance with the production costs incurred' referred to above. Non-compliance with which however remains without a specific sanction.

1.2) Wholesale markets, nothing new

The mockery continues with the reference to wholesale markets, whose managers were already subject to the application of Legislative Decree 198/21. The following is thus established:

- 'the agreements and regulations governing the functioning and organization of wholesale markets for agri-food products include the obligation to comply with the legislation on unfair commercial practices in relations between companies in the agricultural and food supply chain' (new article 3.6-bis. See note 3)

– unique note of color, 'the owners and managers of the markets referred to in the previous paragraph, if they become aware of violations committed within the markets, promptly file a report' to ICQRF (new article 3.6-ter). Furthermore, since there is no sanction for failure to report, it is extremely unlikely that market managers will report their partners or tenants (3)

- 'the violation of the legislation on unfair practices in relations between companies in the agricultural and food supply chain, committed by a supplier, owner of a sales space within the wholesale markets, constitutes a case of serious breach of the contractual relationship with the owner or manager of the market' (new article 3.6-quater).

1.3) Ultra-reduced sanctions

The penalties for unfair commercial practices can be reduced to an extraordinary extent, -75%, if the recipient of the complaint 'within the peremptory deadline of thirty days from notification of the injunction order (...) demonstrate that you have implemented all suitable activities to eliminate the harmful consequences of the offense'. That is to say, depending on the case:

- 'the repetition in written form of the contract concluded orally'

- 'modification of excessively burdensome contractual conditions, by proposing to the supplier the payment of a price higher than the production costs incurred by the latter and in any case the payment of the entire amount agreed in the transfer contract' (new article 10.12-bis).

2) Cereals, registration obligations

'In order to allow accurate monitoring of national cereal production (...) agricultural companies, cooperatives, consortia, commercial companies, import companies and first processing companies that acquire cereals for any reason are required to

– communicate, through a specific electronic register established, as part of the services of the National Agricultural Information System - SIAN, to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, in cumulative form, the quarterly loading and unloading operations carried out'.

Loading and unloading operations are subject to mandatory registration when the quantities of individual cereals exceed

  • 30 t/year for durum wheat,
  • 40 for soft wheat,
  • 80 for corn,
  • 40 for barley,
  • 60 for sorghum,
  • 30 for oats,
  • 30 for spelled, rye, sorghum, millet, wheat, rye and canary seed.

'Excluded companies that mainly carry out livestock farming and companies that produce feed' (DL, article 5).

2.1) First processing companies

First processing companies must record only loading operations, 'with the exclusion of the registration of operations relating to processed cereals'.

'The operations loading and unloading for the sale and processing of cereals and cereal-based flours, of national and EU origin or imported from third countries, must be communicated electronically (...) by the twentieth day of the month following the quarter of reference'.

Subsequent MASAF decrees, within 60 days of the entry into force of the decree-law, will be modified to implement the aforementioned reforms. The administrative fines for failure to register vary from 500 to 4000 euros.

3) Ban on photovoltaic systems in agricultural areas

'The areas classified as agricultural from the current urban plans they are areas not suitable for the installation of photovoltaic systems with modules placed on the ground (...). The authorization procedures underway on the date of entry into force of this decree are concluded in accordance with the previous legislation' (DL, article 6).

A small step forward, with respect to the problem of installing only solar panels on land currently used for agriculture, and yet unsuitable for stopping the robbery of agricultural land and landscapes - as well as the consumption of land for different uses - with regard to the following hypotheses:

– continuation of photovoltaic projects whose procedures have already been started

– reclassification of the areas now used for agriculture

– expropriation of non-agricultural land (e.g. natural landscapes) for photovoltaic and wind power plants

– expropriations of agricultural and non-agricultural land for the installation of wind turbines (4,5).

The mild measure introduced by the Italian government, moreover, it has not been notified to Brussels and finance will not hesitate to contest the (perhaps deliberate) absence of reasons in support of it.

4) African swine fever, urgent measures

Emergency events indicated in the civil protection code are extended toemergencies connected to the unexpected spread of epizootics which, due to the danger to the health of farm animals, must, with immediate intervention, be faced with extraordinary means and powers, to be used during limited and predefined periods of time, and through a coordination activity of multiple bodies and administrations' (DL, art. 7).

The Extraordinary Commissioner for the implementation and coordination of measures to contain and combat the spread of African swine fever, it is authorized to make use of a contingent of up to 177 units of the armed forces, for no longer than 24 months. With bio-regulation objectives, i.e. culling of wild boars. Such personnel will be assigned public security functions and will be able to proceed with the identification of people,also for the purpose of preventing or impeding behavior that may endanger the safety of people or the safety of the places where the activity takes place'.

4.1) Pig production chain, the measures that are missing

No measurements it is instead established:

– in favor of Italian pig farmers on whom DOP hams and cured meats depend, as well as Made in Italy. Who are the first to have to invest in rigorous biosecurity protocols (which include investments in infrastructure, e.g. double electrified barriers), to protect their activities

– to certify the absence of contamination risks in farms, slaughterhouses and meat processing plants that apply rigorous biosafety protocols. As the writer proposed in vain at the dawn of the first outbreak of African swine fever in Italy. (6)

5) Blue crab emergency

An extraordinary Commissioner national for the containment and contrast of the phenomenon of the spread and proliferation of the blue crab species (Callinectes sapidus) and other alien species will be appointed by decree of the Prime Minister.

Commissioner will be able to hire 8 units of non-managerial staff designated by the various competent ministries and make use of a further 6 units from the Regions involved. Within 90 days of the entry into force of the decree in question, it must present an intervention plan. His mandate will expire on 31 December 2026 (DL, art. 8).

6) AGEA, incorporation of SIAN

'In order to rationalize and to increase the effectiveness of public interventions for the reorganization of the control system in the agri-food sector, implementing the management and development of the National Agricultural Information System - SIAN, as well as in order to rationalize and contain public spending, the Information System company national agency for the development of agriculture - SIN SpA is incorporated by right, on the date of entry into force of this decree-law, into the Agency for agricultural disbursements - AGEA' (DL, art. 9).

6.1) CAA Coldiretti monopoly, no reform

Every decree-law it must be justified by reasons of necessity and urgency which are difficult to discern in the incorporation of a joint stock company into a public body. Except to verify whether this operation could be functional in acquiring IT services from 'friendly' companies without resorting to public tenders.

The decree-law under examination should have instead restored free competition for services in agriculture, after:

– the AGEA led by Gabriele Papa Pagliardini in conflict of interest with the magic circle of Coldiretti has excluded approximately 2.500 freelancers from these services, and

– MASAF, with head of cabinet Raffaele Borriello, former manager of Coldiretti, has reformed the CAA tailored to the 'Green Enterprise' of Coldiretti and a few others (7,8), and

– protesting Italian farmers have been demanding for months their sacrosanct freedom to decide who to entrust with the management of their company files (1,9).

The writer has already reported to the European Commission this violation of EU rules, awaiting feedback within the deadline to expire in the next few days.

7) Forestry Carabinieri under the MASAF

The Forestry Unit Command, environmental and agri-food sectors of the Carabinieri is attributed to the functional dependence of the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry. Without prejudice to the functional dependence on the Minister of the Environment and Energy Security of the Command for Environmental Protection and Energy Security (DL, art. 10).

The military code is thus reformed to attribute the 'inspection personnel with agri-food police duties' to the omnivorous MASAF. With further confusion of roles between the official controls on the food supply chain - the coordination of which should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Health (10) - and those of the Forestry Command. In clear violation of the reasons of necessity and urgency.

8) Suspension of mortgages for a few agricultural companies

Businesses alone agricultural, fishing and aquaculture industries which in the year 2023 have suffered a reduction in turnover of at least 20% compared to the previous year can submit a self-certification in this regard for

- 'take advantage of the suspension for twelve months of the payment of mortgage installments and other installment repayment loans, also completed through the issuance of agricultural bills, expiring in 2024, stipulated with banks, financial intermediaries (...) and other entities authorized to grant loans credit in Italy'

– provided that theirdebt exposures are not, on the date of entry into force of this legislative decree, classified as impaired credit exposures, pursuant to the regulations applicable to credit intermediaries'

– with 'ability of companies to request to suspend only capital reimbursements' (DL, article 1.2).

9) 'De minimis' for a few

The government finally recalled the existence of fishing and aquaculture, among the sectors targeted by 'de minimis' aid provided for by Regulation (EU) 717/2014. And in any case:

– within 60 days of the publication of the decree, the Ministry of Agriculture will have to update the implementing decrees, 'taking into account as a criterion for assigning the benefit the stipulation of an insurance policy against damage to production, structures, infrastructures and production plants, deriving from natural disasters or exceptional events or from adverse weather conditions similar to natural disasters or events of catastrophic extent, from epizootics, from organisms harmful to plants, as well as damage caused by protected animals'.

9.1) Insurance in agriculture, the Italian vice

The stipulation of a policy private insurance as a criterion for assigning a public compensation is of dubious constitutional legitimacy (Article 3), in the part in which it favors more structured agricultural companies over those that cannot afford to face the costs of insurance coverage.

The high costs of insurance in agriculture in Italy, as the writer has already reported, are among other things attributable to an illegitimate decree of the Ministry of Agriculture. Which required farmers to insure entire surfaces for vegetable cultivation and entire farms for animal species. (11)

High costs 'by decree', as has also been pointed out, can be traced back to the lobbies of the first farmers' union which grinds profits behind their backs even on agricultural insurance. But no minister or director of the ministry or Antitrust seemed to notice this. (12)

9.2) Exception for friends

Francesco Lollobrigida – in the same decree in which it introduces the prior stipulation of an insurance policy against damage to production as a criterion for assigning 'de minimis' aid (see above, paragraphs 9, 9.1) – derogation from the new criterion, combination, precisely to respond to the needs of his territory, also requested by his party colleague and councilor for agriculture in the Lazio region. (13)

Kiwi producers who during the 2023 campaign suffered damage to kiwi production and their plants (actinidia) due to the so-called 'kiwi death' and 'who have not benefited from compensation deriving from insurance policies or mutual funds, can access the interventions envisaged to encourage the resumption of economic and productive activity'. For friends, this and more.

10) Flooded areas and pensioners, contribution concessions

The contribution period only from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024 it is subject to concessions on social security and welfare contributions due by agricultural employers operating in areas affected by flood events (starting from 1 May 2023), amounting to 68%.

The reduction in half of social security contributions payable by already retired self-employed workersit also applies to self-employed workers already retired from the former IPOST, former INPDAP, former ENPALS managements, at the request of the interested party' (DL, article 2).

11) Spring wind

Italian farmers they may well realize that the agricultural policies of Coldiretti and 'his' minister Francesco Lollobrigida, as well as his friends in Fratelli d'Italia, are all smoke and fire.

It's time for a change, once and for all and before it is too late, starting from Europe where some of the problems listed above - such as the exceptions to the application of the regulation of commercial practices in favor of cooperatives, POs and AOPs, as well as the monopoly of the CAA - can be addressed immediately by urging the European Commission to activate an infringement procedure against the Italian government.

Dario Dongo – candidate in the European elections in the North-East Constituency, on 8-9 June, in the Peace, Earth and Dignity movement – ​​aspires to protect farmers in the EU with some simple priority, already widely shared.

#PangheClean, #PeaceTerraDignità

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

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

(2) Dario Dongo. Goodbye Italian fruit. The crisis, and the solution. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.4.24

(3) Federagromercati, National Federation of Agro-Floro-Ittico-Food Operators, affiliated to Confcommercio, in its recent circular to members even refers to article 62 of Legislative Decree 1/2012 instead of Legislative Decree 198/21 which repealed

(4) Dario Dongo. Land robbery, 'agri-solar parks' and wind turbines. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 3.4.24

(5) Dario Dongo. Land robbery for wind and photovoltaic plants, revolution! GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.4.24

(6) See paragraphs 4,5,6 of the previous article by Dario Dongo. African swine fever, first export bans for Made in Italy cured meats. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.1.22

(7) Dario Dongo. Italy, green light for the CAA monopoly on EU aid in agriculture. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 12.2.24

(8) Dario Dongo. Revolving doors in agriculture, a question. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.2.24

(9) Dario Dongo. CAA reform, new costs and bureaucracy for farmers. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 18.2.24

(10) See the paragraph 'MiPAAF, skills and overlaps' in the previous article by Dario Dongo, Sarah Lanzilli, Amaranta Traversa, Claudio Biglia. Official controls, Legislative Decree 27/21. Implementation of reg. EU 2017/625. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.3.21

(11) Dario Dongo. Subsidized insurance in agriculture, the Italian anomaly. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 19.4.21

(12) Dario Dongo. Subsidized insurance, Coldiretti's business behind farmers. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 13.5.21

(13) Kiwi death, the Lazio Region asks for 215 million euros from the Ministry of Agriculture. Lazio region. 20.2.24 https://tinyurl.com/4bycj86p

(14) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, Lollobrigida and Fratelli d'Italia, deep ties and #falseflag. #CleanSpades. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 10.2.24

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