Italy Prepares to Sell 800 Farms to Young Farmers

Italy' aims to revitalize its aging agricultural sector by providing financing for young farmers to purchase land.
Mar. 21, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Italian farm­ers can buy thou­sands of hectares of land through­out Italy due to a new Bank of the Land ini­tia­tive.

The ini­tia­tive has been coor­di­nated by the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), which offers spe­cial financ­ing to inter­ested par­ties younger than 41 years of age in an effort to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties to a new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers.

The avail­abil­ity of suf­fi­cient cap­i­tal is the biggest obsta­cle to launch­ing a farm­ing com­pany, even more for those younger farm­ers who do not have a farm­ing fam­ily his­tory.- Fabrizio Filippi, pres­i­dent, Coldiretti Tuscany

Half of the 19,800 hectares put on sale by the bank is arable land, 22 per­cent is pas­ture, and the remain­der com­prises for­est, cit­rus groves, vine­yards and fruit orchards.

Dozens of olive groves are also on sale. Most of the 827 poten­tial new farms are located in Sicily (33 per­cent) and Puglia (9 per­cent). Meanwhile, 11 per­cent of the avail­able land is located In Tuscany.

See Also:Restoring Abandoned Olive Trees at Leonardo da Vinci’s Home

Interested par­ties may go online and view all avail­able lands, their agro­nomic char­ac­ter­is­tics and see what crops may be grown there. Purchase pro­pos­als may also be made on the web­site. Young farm­ers will be able to pay for the land in peri­odic install­ments for up to 30 years.

Ismea explained that 403 of the 827 lots are on sale for the first time. The oth­ers were put up for sale in pre­vi­ous years and may now be pur­chased with dis­counts of up to 25 and 35 per­cent.

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Like most European Union coun­tries, Italy is expe­ri­enc­ing a gen­er­a­tional turnover prob­lem in the coun­try­side,” Giorgio Venceslai, head of the office for ser­vices to enter­prises in Ismea, told Olive Oil Times.

According to Eurostat data, most Italian farm­ers are close to retire­ment. In Europe, 34 per­cent of farm­ers are near­ing the retire­ment age. Meanwhile, Venceslai said only 11 per­cent of European farm­ers are under 40.

In many cases, no fam­ily suc­ces­sion is fore­see­able,” Venceslai said. The num­ber of younger farm­ers that enter the agri­cul­tural sec­tor has risen in the last few years, but still appears insuf­fi­cient to replace the older gen­er­a­tions.”

When it comes to olive farms, the lat­est Ismea data show that less than five per­cent of spe­cial­ized olive farms in Italy are man­aged by grow­ers under the age of 40. The fig­ure rises to eight per­cent in the broader agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

According to the aging index used by Ismea, for every young olive farmer in Italy, there are 11 over the age of 65. A large por­tion of the land being sold in the new ini­tia­tive has own­ers who have already retired and are not actively man­ag­ing them.

Looking at the whole Italian agri­cul­ture sec­tor, Ismea said young farm­ers run less than eight per­cent of all farm­ing com­pa­nies.

One of the most rel­e­vant hur­dles in access­ing this mar­ket is financ­ing land pur­chases,” Venceslai said. Italy is one of the European coun­tries with the high­est pur­chase and rent prices for farm­ing lands.

Ismea’s Bank of the Land aims to help the younger gen­er­a­tion over­come those hur­dles, allow­ing them to buy the land in install­ments for 100 per­cent of the total value of the lot,” he added. It also aims at gath­er­ing eco­nomic resources which Ismea will use to offer them favor­able con­ces­sions.”

Agricultural asso­ci­a­tions wel­comed the new ini­tia­tive in many Italian regions.

The avail­abil­ity of suf­fi­cient cap­i­tal is the biggest obsta­cle to launch­ing a farm­ing com­pany, even more for those younger farm­ers who do not have a farm­ing fam­ily his­tory,” said Fabrizio Filippi, pres­i­dent of Coldiretti Tuscany.

Starting from noth­ing, with­out farm­ing land, makes it even more dif­fi­cult,” he added. With the new Ismea ini­tia­tive, 43 new farms could be estab­lished in our region.”

Coldiretti Puglia said inno­va­tion and the abil­ity to expand are com­mon traits for farms run by younger farm­ers.

According to the asso­ci­a­tion, the total income of those farms is 75 per­cent higher than aver­age, and they also tend to have 50 per­cent more employ­ees. The dimen­sions of their farms are also 54 per­cent larger than aver­age.

Benedetta Liberace, head of Young Coldiretti Enterprise in Puglia, said the new Ismea ini­tia­tive is an oppor­tu­nity” since the price for farm­ing land in the region is on lev­els even higher than those in Germany or France.”

Liberace noted how one hectare of an olive grove in the region is now sold for €20,000 to €25,000.

When the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the Bank of the Land ini­tia­tive was launched, Filippo Gallinella, pres­i­dent of the agri­cul­tural com­mit­tee of the Chamber of Deputies, said, a new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers is absolutely needed by Italian agri­cul­ture.”

We need them to reduce the waste of too many uncul­ti­vated acres scat­tered through­out the coun­try,” he added. We also need them to revi­tal­ize the socio-eco­nomic fab­ric of many rural areas that in few decades risk the depop­u­la­tion.”

In the last few years, the Bank of Land made it pos­si­ble to sell more than 13,000 hectares for 349 projects. This year pur­chase pro­pos­als will be accepted until June 5.



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