Italy Introduces New Legislation to Promote Organic Production

The "Organic Made in Italy" label is just one component of a new national strategy to expand organic production and reward farmers for converting.

Mar. 25, 2022
By Paolo DeAndreis

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The Italian par­lia­ment has approved a new law cre­at­ing an Organic Made in Italy” label and national strat­egy to sup­port organic pro­duc­tion through­out the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The law acknowl­edges the unique role of organic pro­duc­tion for social devel­op­ment and envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity. It also pro­vides funds for organic farm­ing research and sup­ports new strate­gic agree­ments among pro­duc­ers.

Organic extra vir­gin olive oil needs to be pro­moted, as organic pro­duc­ers favor­ably impact the envi­ron­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity of olive farm­ing.- Patrizio Di Carlo, gen­eral man­ager, Podere Panolfo

The fur­ther devel­op­ment of organic food pro­duc­tion will also be sus­tained through a spe­cial financ­ing tool, the funds of which will mostly derive from a two per­cent pol­lu­tion tax” imposed on com­pa­nies autho­rized to sell phy­tosan­i­tary prod­ucts con­sid­ered poten­tially harm­ful to the envi­ron­ment.

The new law also pro­motes organic food pro­duc­tion in the national and inter­na­tional mar­kets. For this rea­son, all pub­lic can­teens and pub­lic-funded insti­tu­tions will rec­om­mend organic options.

See Also:A Carbon Credit Market in Italy Provides New Revenue Streams for Olive Growers

According to the major farm­ing asso­ci­a­tion, Coldiretti, the value of Italian organic food in 2021 reached €7.5 bil­lion. Total organic food sales also have grown 122 per­cent in the last 10 years.

Thanks to the new law, we will be able to fur­ther imple­ment organic pro­duc­tion in agri­food and all con­nected pro­duc­tion chains,” said Francesco Battistoni, the under­sec­re­tary at the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. On the world mar­ket, Italy comes sec­ond only after the United States regard­ing organic prod­uct exports.”

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Battistoni also empha­sized the rel­e­vance of the envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of adopt­ing a national organic food pro­duc­tion strat­egy.

The new law defines organic food pro­duc­tion as an agri­cul­tural sys­tem that focuses on sus­tain­abil­ity and restor­ing the nat­ural envi­ron­ment while pro­mot­ing human and ani­mal well­be­ing through food safety and ecosys­tem pro­tec­tion.

Organic olive grow­ers in Italy told Olive Oil Times they hope that the new law would fur­ther sus­tain a sec­tor that has steadily devel­oped in the last decades with grow­ing demand for healthy organic food.

Our organic fam­ily olive farm has con­tin­ued devel­op­ing recent years, but it started in 1978, at a time when even the term organic was unheard of in the coun­try­side,” Patrizio Di Carlo, gen­eral man­ager of Podere Panolfo in Umbria, told Olive Oil Times.

Panolfo was one of the first farms to have its extra vir­gin olive oil rec­og­nized by the European Union as Umbria PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) in 1998.

Italy is one of the most rel­e­vant pro­duc­ers of organic agri­food, and many olive oil pro­duc­ers are organic,” Di Carlo said. Still, organic extra vir­gin olive oil needs to be pro­moted, as organic pro­duc­ers favor­ably impact the envi­ron­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity of olive farm­ing.”

When high qual­ity is involved, the first ques­tion to ask is if the extra vir­gin olive oil has been pro­duced with an organic or con­ven­tional approach,” he added. Because qual­ity is depen­dent not only on the polyphe­nols and fla­vors but also on the over­all approach to farm­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity and actions such as get­ting rid of plas­tics or ensur­ing that work­ers can count on safety and a respect­ful work­ing envi­ron­ment.”

According to data from the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), about 200,000 hectares of the more than one mil­lion hectares ded­i­cated to olive grow­ing in Italy com­prise organic farms.

The Italian national sys­tem for infor­ma­tion on organic agri­cul­ture, Sinab, empha­sized how Italy has the high­est per­cent­age of organic olive grow­ing in Europe.

While organic extra vir­gin olive oil con­sti­tutes eleven per­cent of all national pro­duc­tion, its value reaches fif­teen per­cent due to its higher prices in the mar­ket.

By com­par­i­son, eight per­cent of olive groves in Spain (about 220,000 hectares), the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing coun­try, are cer­ti­fied organic.

Both Spain and Italy have been enact­ing strate­gies to boost the share of olive oil in the mar­ket.

Among the goals of the new Italian strat­egy is to encour­age small food-pro­duc­ing com­pa­nies to adopt organic farm­ing.

The ini­tia­tive is rel­e­vant for the olive sec­tor since 97 per­cent of all olive farm­ing busi­nesses in the coun­try are man­aged by a sin­gle indi­vid­ual.

Coldiretti also said the leg­is­la­tion deploys new dig­i­tal and infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy tools to ensure full trans­parency about the ori­gin, the qual­ity and the trace­abil­ity of the prod­ucts.”

The new law fol­lows the path designed by the European Union’s Green Deal and Farm to Fork strat­egy. It also meets the require­ments of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will deter­mine the amount of funds that will be devoted to E.U. agri­cul­ture between 2023 and 2027.

A few days ago, the European Commission announced the launch of the first edi­tion of its E.U. Organic Awards, which will rec­og­nize organic food pro­duc­ers and expe­ri­ences. The goal is to increase demand for organic prod­ucts among European con­sumers.

Given the CAP and the national strate­gies, the Italian organic sec­tor should be able to count on €630 mil­lion per year,” said Angelo Frascarelli, an econ­o­mist at the University of Perugia.

According to WineNews, Frascarelli also hinted that farm­ers need to con­nect geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tors (PGI and PDO) with organic prod­ucts.

Our agri­cul­ture has high pro­duc­tion costs and must sell at higher prices its prod­ucts which, beyond their spe­cific qual­ity, bring with them emo­tional and local val­ues,” he said.

The new law also cre­ated a tech­ni­cal round­table for organic farm­ing.” It will iden­tify solu­tions and pri­or­i­ties for imple­ment­ing the national organic farm­ing strat­egy, includ­ing new plans for con­vert­ing con­ven­tional agri­food com­pa­nies to organic farm­ing and assist­ing new farm­ers in the organic mar­ket.

The round­table will give its opin­ion on new rules and laws dis­cussed and approved at a national and European level and pro­pose organic food pro­duc­tion pro­mo­tional activ­i­ties.

The Italian organic farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tions noted the strate­gic rel­e­vance of the new law, which, they said, will offer new busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties to the younger gen­er­a­tions and give new value to rural areas while also sus­tain­ing bio­di­ver­sity and mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change.

With 15 years in the mak­ing, the new law is essen­tial to sup­port agroe­co­log­i­cal con­ver­sion, allow­ing Italy to take advan­tage of the eco­nomic sup­port ded­i­cated to this cer­ti­fied sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture to grow the sec­tor both in terms of pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion,” five of Italy’s lead­ing organic farm­ers’ asso­ci­a­tions said in a press release.

Thanks to this law, organic farm­ing can become the engine for relaunch­ing the entire agri-food sec­tor,” the asso­ci­a­tions added. Italy has a strong organic voca­tion, which must be increased and enhanced with invest­ments in research, inno­va­tion, train­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to con­tinue to be a leader among the European coun­tries.”



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