Italian Minister: Agriculture and environment must go ‘hand in hand’

Gian Luca Galletti: "The contributions of the agricultural world should be there and must be decisive." [Camera dei deputati/Flickr]

Agriculture and the environment must go hand in hand, taking into account the role that each plays, Italian Minister for Environment Gian Luca Galletti told EURACTIV.com.

Galletti stressed that agriculture was indispensable to the environment, not only because a good environment is conducive to good agriculture but also because good agriculture corresponds to a good environment.

The Italian socialist politician linked agriculture’s role to the commitments Europe has in the Paris Agreement. “The contributions of the agricultural world should be there and must be decisive.”

According to the minister, precision farming and the introduction of new technologies in the farming sector could help reach even those virtuous goals that Europe has signed up to, reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030.

“This must happen in harmony, knowing that agriculture is an important part of the economy, that agriculture has a strong growth prospect, and that it employs many people,” he explained.

Strengthening direct payments

Speaking at the Global Food Forum organised by think tank Farm Europe in Treviso on 19 October, Massimiliano Giansanti, President of Italian agricultural organisation Confagricoltura, stated that the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should strengthen its first pillar: direct payments.

“It is an essential element in the structuring of the CAP,” Giansanti pointed out, adding that on the other hand, it must help farmers in the light of climate change that is increasingly affecting their activity by reducing risks and stabilising prices.

“For us, the biggest challenge is to have a simplification of the CAP. Over the years, we have known a CAP that has been generous to farmers but whose benefits have been quite difficult to gain access to,” he noted.

“And it is too bureaucratic, we need a CAP that is easier  to access, and  can allow the farmer to be more a farmer and less an admin clerk,” he added, stressing that farmers need to produce tonnes of paperwork to get contributions from the European Union.

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The EU’s Southern member states are the leading producers of foods certified by EU quality schemes: between them, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Greece account for 70% of the total.

Trade deals and geographical indications

Giansanti also talked about the trade agreement the EU is negotiating with third countries.

He said the problem arose from the failure of negotiations within the WTO, where there was no success, and therefore, everything went bilateral.

“From bilateral agreements, there are some opportunities. CETA is a great success for us because it recognised in the Canadian market as many as 41 Italian geographical indications that have not been recognised until today,” he said.

He noted that Italian companies would start exporting to an important market that knows how to reward the quality of Italian products.

“Now that markets are opening up, we will be more and more present, and as a result, the consumer who wants to eat the true Italian product can choose the certified product that today, unfortunately, he cannot find.”

Greeks fear they will lose their ‘white gold’ with CETA

Farmers in Greece are concerned about the fate of feta cheese in EU trade agreements with third countries after the EU failed to fully protect the iconic product in the CETA free trade deal with Canada. EURACTIV Greece reports.