New CAP Provides Plenty of Opportunities for Italian Olive Growers

Renewed attention on workers’ rights, support for small farmers and young farmers and easier access to compensation will help Italian olive growers.
Jul. 7, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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The impacts of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed by the European Union mem­ber states last week will soon be felt across the Italian agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

Among the pri­mary bene­fac­tors of the new pol­icy will be the olive oil sec­tor, espe­cially pro­duc­ers of oils cer­ti­fied with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) sta­tus.

The new CAP rep­re­sents a huge oppor­tu­nity for our farm­ers because they will finally be able to plan their invest­ments.- Francesco Battistoni, Italian Undersecretary of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

The sub­si­dies des­tined to the Italian agri­cul­tural sec­tor with the addi­tion of national funds will reach €34 bil­lion from 2023 to 2027 (€50 bil­lion, includ­ing the two-year stop­gap fund­ing from 2021 to 2023), with 25 per­cent of all direct pay­ments to farm­ers con­nected explic­itly to envi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices.

See Also: Planas: Traditional Olive Growers Will Be Protected in New Common Agricultural Policy

According to the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Stefano Patuanelli, the new CAP will sim­plify access to com­pen­sa­tions due to cli­mate change and extreme weather events, which have sig­nif­i­cantly affected Italian olive farm­ers in recent years.

Three per­cent of the total direct sub­si­dies and rural funds will be devoted to risk man­age­ment and restora­tion. The new CAP will also leg­is­late pro­ce­dures to dis­trib­ute funds more quickly than in the past.

The new CAP rep­re­sents a huge oppor­tu­nity for our farm­ers because they will finally be able to plan their invest­ments,” Francesco Battistoni, the Italian Undersecretary of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, told Olive Oil Times.

He added that the new CAP inher­ently tar­gets the nature and struc­ture of the olive oil indus­try in Italy. The new agree­ment aims to pro­mote younger gen­er­a­tions of farm­ers, with spe­cific funds pro­vided to sup­port their activ­i­ties.

Three per­cent of funds ded­i­cated to direct pay­ments will have to be des­tined to the young farm­ers to facil­i­tate gen­er­a­tional turnover,” Battistoni said.

Although many gov­ern­men­tal ini­tia­tives cur­rently focus on young Italian agri­cul­tur­al­ists, farm­ers under the age of 40 are rare in the coun­try. According to a recent report pub­lished by Ismea on the Italian olive oil sec­tor, there are 11 farm­ers aged 65 or older for every young farmer.

Support for young farm­ers… could cover income sup­port, invest­ment or start-up aid,” the European Commission said as it announced the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the CAP polit­i­cal agree­ment last month.

The new agree­ment will allow the orga­ni­za­tions in charge of PGI and PDO pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion to for­mu­late rec­om­men­da­tions on prices, extend­ing their cur­rent abil­i­ties to do so under the com­mon orga­ni­za­tion of the mar­kets, which is meant to help sta­bi­lize prices in each agri­cul­tural sec­tor. It will also pro­vide emer­gency com­pen­sa­tion for these pro­duc­ers.

Battistoni said that this mea­sure ensures all PDO and PGI prod­ucts can be pro­grammed to bet­ter fit into the grow­ing market’s volatil­ity,” which is sig­nif­i­cant since Italy has more PDO and PGI-pro­tected olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions than any other European coun­try.

The new CAP, which the mem­ber states’ gov­ern­ments will have to trans­late into national strate­gic plans, also aims at offer­ing a pro­tec­tion umbrella for small farm­ing oper­a­tions.

While the most sig­nif­i­cant share of the national sub­si­dies will still be des­tined to the large com­pa­nies, the national plans will have to guar­an­tee that 10 per­cent of all avail­able sub­si­dies be dis­trib­uted to small agri-busi­nesses.

The agree­ment asks national gov­ern­ments to spec­ify in their strate­gic plan how they will accom­plish this task, which will be a sig­nif­i­cant pro­vi­sion for many Italian olive grow­ers, given that the vast major­ity of them oper­ate as small busi­nesses.

With a par­tic­u­lar focus on a reduced envi­ron­men­tal impact of the agri­cul­tural oper­a­tions and the con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity, the new CAP requires those who will ask for pub­lic sup­port to devote at least three per­cent of their fields to bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion.

No pro­duc­tive crop will be grown in those areas, a pro­vi­sion that works well for tra­di­tional olive grow­ers, which rep­re­sent a large part of Italian grow­ers. Any activ­ity aimed at pre­serv­ing car­bon-rich soil by pro­tect­ing bogs and peat bogs will meet the new CAP require­ments.

This mea­sure will also inter­est olive farm­ers try­ing to repli­cate the encour­ag­ing results of the Spanish Olivares Vivos project, which focused specif­i­cally on restor­ing bio­di­ver­sity in olive groves.

Along with envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, Battistoni said that the CAP also focuses on social issues.

The CAP’s turn­ing point has a social nature: sub­si­dies will be dis­trib­uted with spe­cific atten­tion to the respect of work­ers’ rights,” he said. Those who will not fol­low the rules will incur heavy fines. This social para­me­ter is an inno­v­a­tive and rel­e­vant game-changer.”

Under the new rules, farm­ers will have to adhere to the E.U. labor and social reg­u­la­tions to receive pub­lic sup­port.

Paolo De Castro, an Italian Member of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Commission, added that from now on the CAP will not fund farm­ers who do not respect their work­ers’ rights, putting an end to their unfair com­pe­ti­tion against the large major­ity of entre­pre­neurs who fully respect those rights.”

The Italian gov­ern­ment and the other European Union coun­tries will have to present their national strate­gic plan about the CAP by the end of 2021.

In the fol­low­ing six months, the European Commission will exam­ine the plans, which will come into force start­ing in January 2023. Until then, tem­po­rary pro­vi­sions are set to guar­an­tee cur­rent devel­op­ment plans along with emer­gency and restora­tion funds.

More could have been done [in the E.U. debate on the CAP], espe­cially for the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of admin­is­tra­tion, but we could have ended up with less as well,” Battistoni said.

The plans we are going to out­line together with the stake­hold­ers [local gov­ern­ments, oper­a­tors, farm­ers and so on] will have a cru­cial role to play to put the oppor­tu­ni­ties of the new agree­ments to the best pos­si­ble use,” he con­cluded.





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