Italian farmers and food producers will receive approximately €37 billion in the next five years under the auspices of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023 – 2027 of the European Union.
The CAP informs crucial policies of all member states, and Italy has just been given the green light for its national strategic plan, which will come into force on January 1.
“[The plan] will support competitiveness and sustainability throughout the farming and agri-food sectors,” said Francesco Lollobrigida, the Italian agriculture minister.
Slightly more than €26 billion will come from the E.U. budget, with the remaining funds budgeted by the Italian government.
The new CAP includes measures to lower the environmental impact of agriculture and food production, enhance food safety, farming sustainability and biodiversity, support small farms and food companies and encourage more young people to farm.
It also seeks to combat food waste, improve social conditions in the food production sector and protect animal wellbeing.
Following its guidelines, the Italian plan focuses on supporting what is defined as “the transition to organic agriculture” while also improving resilience and competitiveness across the different production chains.
Approximately €2 billion will be dedicated to organic agriculture, a measure considered crucial to achieving the E.U. goal of having 25 percent of all farmland converted to organic practices by 2027.
Food quality is another pillar of the plan, with the Italian government planning to support extra virgin olive oil and other traditional food products with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) certification.
Other funds will be dedicated to so-called “heroic agriculture,” which takes place in highly challenging environments such as olive groves on steep slopes.
Olive oil producers in Puglia and Calabria, the country’s two largest olive oil-producing regions, will also receive funds from the CAP.
An updated framework for risk management will offer farms greater stability in times of significant challenges and climate uncertainties.
According to the Italian farming association, Coldiretti, one of the most relevant updates of the new CAP is the agricultural compensation system, which seeks to stabilize incomes while promoting sustainability. Almost €18 billion are dedicated to directly supporting farm incomes.
The plan also seeks to broaden the scope of rural agricultural activities to support income and preserve rural heritage. The plan also provides funds for sustainable farming and ranching and makes it easier for younger generations to access set-up agribusinesses and buy land.
The younger generations will also more easily benefit from funds to encourage using the latest technologies and following the most modern agricultural best practices.
According to data from the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea), there are 11 farmers over the age of 65 for each farmer under the age of 40 in Italy.
Farmers who reduce their environmental impact by going beyond the minimum requirements of the E.U. policy will also be rewarded with an €876 million fund.
Seventeen percent of the funds will go to olive growers safeguarding olive trees declared national heritage monuments and traditional landscapes. Growers will be awarded €220 per hectare, provided they take care of the olive trees on the land.
Farms on less than 14 hectares, which comprise a large portion of Italian food production, will be supported through a €350 million-per-year fund. In Italy, 1.1 million farms are smaller than 11 hectares.
The plan also provides €20 million to fund reservoir construction and renovation as well as other tactics to mitigate the impacts of the ongoing drought.
The plan also provides funding to support gender equality in farming and food production companies, promote workplace safety and provide easier access to agricultural knowledge.
A series of measures will also be enacted to prevent illegal and unsafe labor practices and make it easier for farmers to employ seasonal workers.
The most significant portion of the CAP funds for Italy’s national strategic plan will be managed through governmental directives, which are currently under development.
Since 1962, the CAP has been one of the significant common policy efforts carried out by the European Union. Approximately one-third of the E.U. budget is spent on the CAP.
In the next five years, the CAP will reach €387 billion in total expenditure. Forty percent of the money will fund E.U. strategies to tackle climate change that also intersect with agricultural policies.