Abandoned Farm Auctions Attract a New Generation of Italian Farmers

A program that provides incentives to establish new businesses in abandoned Italian farmlands has enticed young agricultural entrepreneurs.
Abandoned house in italian countryside.
Jun. 16, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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Italy’s Bank of the Lands and Ismea, the Institute of Services for the Agricultural Food Market, have raised much more atten­tion than they expected from young farm­ers seek­ing lands and busi­nesses to cul­ti­vate.

Ismea, the insti­tu­tion behind the ini­tia­tive, noted that in the last few months, 1,709 of what are called new gen­er­a­tion farm­ers” have applied to buy farm­ing lots, groves and fields placed on the mar­ket by the bank.

See Also: New Bank Set to Auction Abandoned Farms in Italy

Most of the lots are aban­doned or unused agri­cul­tural lands that cover a total of 10,000 hectares (almost 25,000 acres), mostly in Southern Italy.

The goal of the ini­tia­tive is both to restore the areas while assist­ing the devel­op­ment of new prof­itable and advanced agri­cul­tural projects.

Auction win­ners under 41 years of age will buy the lands under spe­cial con­di­tions, includ­ing access to spe­cial financ­ing terms and tax breaks.

Revenue com­ing from the sale of the lands will be invested by the bank in the most promis­ing agri­cul­tural projects pre­sented by the new farm­ers to Ismea, who will also help them develop their new com­pa­nies.

A new gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers is absolutely needed by Italian agri­cul­ture,” said Filippo Gallinella, pres­i­dent of the Agricultural Commission of Italian Chamber of Deputies.

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

This round of auc­tions, said Ismea, included 386 farm­ing lots that aver­age 26 hectares (64 acres). That is an area three times the cur­rent aver­age Italian farm­ing lot of 8 hectares (20 acres).

The epi­demic has shown the need for our coun­try to improve its agri­cul­tural resilience and stressed the need to be more self-suf­fi­cient,” Gallinella said. That is another rea­son we not only wel­come the new farm­ers but will also work in Parliament to let them grow the qual­ity, the inno­va­tion and the sus­tain­abil­ity of their projects.”

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