EUROPEAN NEWS - GOVERNMENT - ECONOMY - AGRICULTURE - RURAL DEVELOPMENT - ENERGY - ENVIRONMENTTHE GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW AGRICOLTURAL POLICIESNew tools and funding to promote development,economic growth,innovation and sustainability in a strategic sector for the economyNew policies that will make European agriculture the most developed in the region
After approval by a large majority by the European Parliament
of the large package of laws,the Government
and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies
have been able to start the Agriculture Development and Sustainability Strategy
aimed to revitalize,modernize,and develop a strategic sector for the national economy,focusing on the development of agricultural enterprises,technological innovation,fairness and justice for farmers and environmental sustainability.
It must to remember what they represent agriculture and breeding of the nation. Thanks to the exceptional development of this sector, to the European citizens is ensured food security. As a society, we can be sure that our farmers produce the food we need. They provide a wide variety of products abundant,affordable,safe and of good quality. The Europe is known worldwide for its food quality and its secular culinary traditions. With its outstanding agricultural resources,Europe can and should play a key role in ensuring food security of the entire planet.
Agriculture is not just about food production, but also the rural communities and the people who live there, as well as our natural environment and its precious resources. In all European Regions
,farmers maintain in life the countryside and rural areas and perpetuate rural lifestyles.
Agricultural enterprises,from small and medium-sized enterprises,often family-run businesses to large,hundreds of thousands and employ millions of people. But we must also count all related areas. Number of jobs in rural areas depend on agriculture. Farmers need of machines,buildings,fuel,fertilizers and health care for their animals. So agriculture holds in life construction companies,chemical and mechanical industries,professionals of various kinds. Many people find employment in these industries 'upstream',others are involved in the 'downstream' companies,related to preparation,processing and packaging of food,and others involved in the storage, transport and retail sale of food products.
The campaigns are not in the original natural state,but have been shaped over the centuries by agriculture,which created the variety of environments and landscapes that we know. Our space is the natural habitat of many species of animals and plants. This biodiversity is essential for the sustainable development of the countryside. The farmers manage natural space for the benefit of all of us and provide public goods,among the most important of which include the care and maintenance of the land,landscape and biodiversity. Farmers and agriculture are essential for the preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity.
Consequently, the main objectives of the Agriculture Development and Sustainability Strategy
are: to improve agricultural productivity through innovation,modernization and development,so that consumers can count on stable supplies of food at affordable prices,environmental protection,through sustainable agricultural techniques,high quality food products and energy efficiency,and ensure a decent standard of living for European farmers. The new policy, by means of instruments, and the massive investment incentives, which amount to a total of hundreds of billions of Euros, aims to achieve this goals.
At the central level,new tools and new regulations will be managed by the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
,with an apposite agency,the Agency for Agriculture Sustainment
. At the local level,the new policies,funding and tools will be managed by the Regions
,through specific agencies,Regional Agricolture Sustainment Agencies
FIRST PILLAR - PRODUCTIVE INVESTMENTS ON AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES & FOOD INDUSTRY
Farmers play in rural areas a very important economic role,which the EU can not afford to give up. The skills instinctive and fundamental of agriculture can not be captured on the pages of a book,but are handed down from generation to generation. For this reason,the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
considers it necessary to support the development of agricultural enterprises of all types and sizes.
The first tool available is aimed at the development and modernization of entire agricultural supply chains in specific geographic areas,which contain agricultural enterpreses (including the small and medium sized),food and agro-industries,transportation and sale companies. It is the Contract of Supply Chain
. All companies involved,creating a cooperative that includes also banks and public authorities (specialized agencies,local authorities,Ministry
),plan an investment operations aimed at strengthening of structures,infrastructure and equipments of the all companies,and development of all businesses. At that point,the public authorities,after careful consideration,cover part of the costs, up from 50% to 90% of total expenditure,thus delivering a public investment to the cooperative of companies. Contract of Supply Chain
is a tool that lets quickly a large development of the entire agricultural supply chain, not only from the economic point of view, but also from the environmental point of view.
The Contracts of Program
fall within the negotiated programming tools provided to support employment and development through the involvement of public and private entities,such as the Ministry
,local authorities,large agricultural enterprises and consortia of small and medium agricultural enterprises. The companies,which can be of different sectors and various agricultural supply chains,even in large geographical areas,develop with the support of the public, an investment plan,aimed at the development,employment support and modernization,according to close constraints of environmental sustainability. Hence public authorities shall cover,through public grants and loans,much of the costs.
The short supply chain or short circuit, it is that particular type of business based on the direct relationship between producers (farmers) and consumers,which makes it possible to experiment with new forms of exchange,encounter, cooperation. For this reason the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
and local authorities,through the Fund for the Short Chain
, are committed to massively encourage,stimulate and develop short supply chain in all agricultural sectors. In fact, the short chain brings huge benefits, including
- The recognition of a fair value to the productions of the farmers;
- Support for the consumption of local products in the area,resulting in stimulation of seasonal consumption and reduce the environmental impact resulting from transportation and packaging;
- The stimulus to consumption "aware" of the consumer,which is given the opportunity to know the location of their purchases and make a substantial control on their quality;
- The restoration of the link with the territory,also depending on the enhancement of biodiversity.
Finally, there is an emphasis on support to small and medium-sized farms, the real backbone of the entire agricultural sector. The first tool and the Agricultural Guarantee Fund
, which essentially serves to encourage investment by banks to small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises (which are generally seen as "too risky" for loans). The public authorities, namely the Ministry
and local authorities will provide to companies who request a public guarantee, which then attract additional financing from banks. In practice, for every euro of guarantees provided to undertakings arrive more than 20 euro investment. The Fund
has availabe more than 40 billion, then businesses will be able to get loans at least twenty times higher. For the small and medium-sized enterprise,so it is generally impossible to gain access to bank loans,the Ministry
and local authorities have created the Agrarian Fund Microcredit
. The Fund
provides subsidized loans for the development and modernization of small agricultural enterprises in the form of micro-credit. The Agricultural Guarantee Fund
and the Agrarian Fund Microcredit
will provide a great development and a massive modernization of small and medium-sized farms, thus allowing greater efficiency, productivity and sustainability.
SECOND PILLAR - INNOVATION,MODERNIZATION & FARMERS POLICIES
The farms are generally relatively small. An average European farmer owns only 12 acres of land (equivalent to about 20 football fields) and 70% of the farms have an area of less than five hectares. Given the small size of their farms, farmers may find it difficult to obtain the best market price for their products. It sometimes happens that their efforts to improve quality and add value to products that are not rewarded by that price. The new government policy helps more and more farmers to strengthen their negotiating power towards other actors in the food chain. The European Government
and the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
supports them through the Instrument for Agricultural Cooperatives
(which provides a massive technical and financial assistance),by encouraging:
• the establishment of producer organizations: these allow farmers to form associations and cooperatives for collective sale of their products and to exert more market power in the food chain,
• Other forms of cooperation,in order to give the farmers greater market power and increase profit margins and competitiveness,
• specialized types of production,such as biological agriculture
• contractual relationships along the food chain,
• the creation of mutual funds and schemes insurance to allow farmers to respond more effectively to situations of market instability or to rapid price declines.
and local authorities,through the Instrument for Young Enterprise and Farmers Training
, support the establishment of young farmers and young companies through financing for the purchase of land,machineries and facilities. It also provides grants for the training of new operators and farmers already settled with the latest technical methods of production. The need to encourage young farmers and to ensure continuity from one generation to another is a real challenge for rural development in the Europe,that the Government
wants to overcome. In some regions of Europe where agriculture is particularly difficult,for example in hilly,mountainous, and / or remote zones,it is important to keep life in local communities. The Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
and the local authorities,through the Fund for Disadvantaged Areas
provides the necessary instruments and loans to ensure that rural communities in vulnerable areas remain in good economic conditions, to ensure the development and modernization of local businesses.
The new agricultural policies help farmers be more productive and improve their technical skills. First, the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
,through specific government agencies,will engage in massive activities for research and development in the agricultural sector,committing several tens of billions of investments (both public and private),and cooperating with private operators and and research organizations. In addition, through the Fund for Agricultural Innovation
, the Ministry
and local authorities will support, will stimulate and encourage massively, by farmers:
• adopt methods that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,
• use environmentally friendly farming techniques,
• comply with the rules in the fields of health, environment and animal welfare,
• produce and market specialty foods of their regions,
• make more productive use of forests and wooded areas,
• develop new uses for agricultural products in areas such as cosmetics, medicine and crafts.
The modernization of agricultural holdings is a key objective for the agricultural policies goernative, and, in fact, the Ministry, in cooperation with local authorities, has created the specific Fund for the Modernization of Agriculture
. The aim is to ensure that the modernization help farmers to become economically competitive and to implement environmentally sustainable techniques. Many farmers use the funds to modernize facilities and equipment, to upgrade the infrastructure and to improve the welfare of farmed animals. The Fund
will remain an important driver of change and progress: it will continue to offer farmers the opportunity to improve their businesses and, more generally, rural areas where they live. Grants and loans play a major role, but there are other ways to help farmers. The training programs and business consulting services are some of the less visible, which, however, give a valuable aid to farmers across the nation
THIRD PILLAR - RURAL ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURE
Although agriculture is the main economic activity in most rural areas, farmers also carry out other activities. Often also deal with the transformation of their products and sell them directly to consumers. About half of the European population lives in rural areas. Without agriculture many rural communities would cease to exist, and there would simply the abandonment the land. For this reason,the new agricultural policy gives farmers a massive financial and technical assistance through the Rural Agricultural Fund. The aim is to ensure that they continue to work the land and create additional jobs through the renewal of their villages,protection of landscape and natural environment,as well as projects in the field of cultural heritage and many other tasks directly or indirectly connected with agriculture and the rural economy. Public services,such as schools,infrastructures and public health,through this Fund are mantained and improved,giving people a reason to stay in the countryside and grow there their children.
About half of European territory is cultivated. As a result, agriculture is actually a very important element for our natural environment. Over the centuries the agriculture contributed to the creation and preservation of numerous natural habitats of great value,which today characterize the different landscapes in the nation and are home to flora and fauna extremely varied. Agriculture and nature affect each other. Thanks to the new agricultural policies our methods of production become more environmentally friendly. Nowadays, farmers must therefore play two roles: to produce our food and manage the landscape. Thanks to a new specific instrument,the Agrarian Environment Fund,which provides massive financial and technical assistance,farmers are expected to adopt environmentally friendly farming methods. In practice, this means that they must maintain permanent grassland (grass absorbs carbon dioxide, thereby helping to combat climate change), have a minimum number of crops and manage at least 85% of the arable land (the so-called 'area of ecological interest ") with methods that promote biodiversity and environmental protection,ensure the welfare of farmed animals,take care of water resources and the maintenance of the landscape. They may also receive additional support if they adopt more stringent practices in the field of agri-environment. Environmental protection and biodiversity by farmers and agriculture enterprises is also a must to access all other loans analyzed until now.
FOURTH PILLAR - ENERGY AND AGRICULTURE
Agriculture and Energy,clean and sustainable,are now closely linked in an inseparable pair. Of course you can not make agriculture a powerhouse for the entire nation,but you can do so that it becomes self-sufficient in terms of energy. The new government policies, guided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fostry Policies and coordinated by local authorities, are designed precisely to this.
First of all,through the Fund for Agriculture Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,the Ministry and local authorities aim to promote the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency for farms through massive loans, tax deductions and technical assistance. These tools are aimed at the modernization of facilities,infrastructures,vehicles and equipments to make them as efficient as possible in terms of energy consumption. The Fund therefore, encourage and promote the use of renewable energy sources to ensure energy self-sufficiency to agricultural enterprises. For example,it encouraged the creation of structures for geothermal energy and district heating,the creation of small wind farms,the creation small but efficient hydroelectric plants on water infrastructure,or the installation of photovoltaic panels on the agriculture structures (barns, sheds...). For efficiency, the Fund strongly encourage the aggregation of multiple agricultural enterprises into cooperatives to support the joint management of renewable energy installations, so they can ensure energy independence for most enterprises at the same time. The financial and technical support of the Fund will contribute to making agriculture virtually autonomous from the energy point of view, and to reduce energy consumption.
With regard to the production of energy from biomass,the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies and local authorities have created a specific tool for financial and technical support,the Fund for Biomass in Agriculture. The Fund will support the creation of biomass from agricultural enterprises especially from waste and by-products of crops, livestock and forestry. However, the new regulations impose serious limits on how much can be removed, allowing farmers to ensure procurement of biomass,but at the same time avoiding that the land remain without organic matter and without humus. With regard to forestry,the Fund will provide the tools to ensure their complete rehabilitation and sustainable management,and support their use by agricultural cooperatives. The Fund will support massively the creation of biomass power plants, biogas plants and bio-refineries for the production of heat and electricity. The new regulations provide that such structures should only be used to guarantee the energy autonomy to agricultural enterprises and,as far as possible,to the rural areas. The new regulations provide that all agricultural enterprises present in a common geographic area must meet in cooperative,that will be supported by the Fund,for the management of the facilities and of the services of production,procurement,storage and transportation of biomass. The power plants will be able to receive biomass only from agricultural enterprises within a range of 50 km,which generally will be all part of the cooperatives that manage plants themselves,to avoid too many emissions caused by transport. In this way, the farmers will be able to guarantee the energy autonomy for electricity and for heating,for their own businesses and for rural areas,while biomass plants and correlated services,generally small in size and all directly managed by farmers,with the support of local authorities,will highlight the full potential of agricultural energies.
A word aside to be spent for the crops exclusively for biomass. The Fund for Biomass in Agriculture will support their diffosione, however, the regulations require to be included in rotation with traditional food crops and intended solely for local supply chains for biomass. The crops for biomass, in particular, may be grown on marginal land, or abandoned by time, so as not preguidicare the production of crops for food.
FIFTH PILLAR - FOOD QUALITY
Europe is a country internationally renowned for its wide variety of food,but especially for the high quality of food,wine and beer it produces. In fact, one of the main export items are food,and European citizens are proud of consume high quality products. All this is the result of a vast culinary cultureand gastronomic, which has its roots in the millennia. The top priority of the Government is to spread and,above all,defend the quality food products on the domestic market and on the international market,and for this reason the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies launched an innovative labeling system. This will contribute to enhancing the local culinary traditions, spreading the food quality.
The PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) designates a food product in all its stages in a given region,with skills recognized and local ingredients,and whose characteristics are related to the geographical origin. Among the PDO include many cheeses (such as Queso Manchego,or Feta),meats (such as Prosciutto di San Daniele),olive oil (such as Umbria,Kalamata,Montoro-Adamuz),as well as fruit and vegetables and,of course,numerous wines.
The PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) means a food whose quality or reputation is linked to a region in which it takes place at least one stage of production. As examples we can mention several beers (as Münchener Bier,Českobudějovické Pivo),meat (such as Scotch Beef,various types of poultry French),as well as bakery products and fishery products (in particular the Scottish Farmed Salmon).
The term Traditional Specialty Guaranteed,better known by the acronym TGS,is a mark of origin aimed at protecting productions that are characterized by compositions or traditional production methods. This certification is intended for agricultural products and foodstuffs that have a "specific" related to the method of manufacture or composition linked to the tradition of the area,but that are not necessarily produced only in that area. Even a TGS preparation must conform to a precise specification.
There is a European brand specific for organic products,the Organic Product Mark,which ensures compliance of European production standards in the field of organic farming. The latter respects the natural cycles of plants and animals,limiting as much as possible the impact of human activities on the environment and uses methods of production strictly comply with European legislation precise and rigorous.