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Italian Producers Shortchanged in EU Funding

Italian farmers say recent rounds of funding were directed mainly to their competitors in Spain, Greece and Portugal.

Feb. 12, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis

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The last three rounds of Euro­pean Union funds directed to olive oil grow­ers did not take into account what is hap­pen­ing to Ital­ian olive oil prices and only con­sider price tur­moils in other coun­tries.

That is the core of mount­ing dis­con­tent in Italy among olive farm­ers here, directed both to their E.U. rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion itself.

Once again our Euro­pean rep­re­sen­ta­tives proved their activ­ity to be dis­con­nected to the needs of their own coun­try.- Confa­gri­coltura

In the midst of a sharp down­fall in olive oil prices hit­ting all major Euro­pean mar­kets, Ital­ian olive oil grow­ers feel dis­crim­i­nated against.

In Italy, we have seen extra vir­gin olive oil price col­lapse by almost fifty per­cent in just ten months and, in the exact moment we denounce this trou­bling sit­u­a­tion, here comes the Euro­pean Union with new fund­ing rounds for olive oil farm­ers in which only Spain, Greece and Por­tu­gal are nom­i­nated,” read a strongly worded state­ment issued by Confa­gri­coltura, the Ital­ian asso­ci­a­tion of farm­ers and olive oil pro­duc­ers.

The asso­ci­a­tion was refer­ring to the stor­age funds issued since last Novem­ber in three dif­fer­ent rounds by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The ten­der pro­ce­dures began with a sen­tence that infu­ri­ates some Ital­ian farm­ers: Prices for vir­gin olive oils on the Span­ish, Greek and Por­tuguese mar­kets have remained con­sis­tently low.”

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Just by read­ing this one can under­stand that the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of these three coun­tries in Europe have been smarter and more inter­ested in the well being of their cit­i­zens than our own rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” the farm­ers’ group said.

The word­ing of those pro­ce­dures, though, is not the only rea­son farm­ers in Italy feel short­changed.

The fund­ing by the EU was meant to pre­vent at least some of the olive oil pro­duced within the E.U. from directly enter­ing the mar­ket. Being in a period of great tur­moil, with prices going down prac­ti­cally every­where, olive oil stor­age fund­ing may help to sweeten the pill and slow the pric­ing col­lapse.

Not in Italy, say grow­ers and dis­trib­u­tors. They point out that the first of the three ten­der pro­ce­dures issued since Novem­ber did not take into account any extra vir­gin olive oil stor­age fund­ing while pro­vid­ing funds only to lower qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­ers.

With high-qual­ity olive oil one of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of Ital­ian pro­duc­tion, it is easy to under­stand why no Ital­ian farm­ers won any funds,” the grow­ers said.

It was no bet­ter with the sec­ond round. Extra vir­gin oil once again received no funds while par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ten­der pro­ce­dures required even more bureau­cracy. The third round, held just a few days ago, did include high-qual­ity olive oil, but for a price equal to that of lower qual­ity oils.

In a mar­ket trou­bled by a sharp fall of oil prices, most extra vir­gin oil pro­duc­ers now feel left alone. The E.U aid for 2020 largely ends in the hands of Span­ish, Greek and Por­tuguese grow­ers, while ignor­ing a major swath of Ital­ian olive oil pro­duc­ers.

The Euro­pean Union for three times in a row has for­got­ten that one of the main olive oil pro­duc­ers in its own ter­ri­tory is Italy,” said Mario Dami­ani, a farmer in cen­tral Italy who has had to face the col­laps­ing price for his extra vir­gin olive oil, in an inter­view with Olive Oil Times. Where are our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Europe? What about the Gov­ern­ment?”

Once again we lost a chance to bet­ter react to a dif­fi­cult mar­ket sit­u­a­tion,” the farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion Confa­gri­coltura con­cluded. Once again our Euro­pean rep­re­sen­ta­tives proved their activ­ity to be dis­con­nected to the needs of their own coun­try.”



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