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

Recent News

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.”


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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