Agriculture and Tourism, AssoBio Protests

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The Palace of Bureaucracy headed by Agriculture Policy has complicated labeling requirements for organic, PDO and PGI foods. Demanding that about 280 thousand enterprises update the acronym ‘MiPAAF’ to ‘MiPAAFT’. It is time for Minister Gian Marco Centinaio to turn over a new leaf. AssoBio’s shared protest.

Ministry of Agriculture etc. etc.

The Ministry of Agriculture is endowed with a core competence in a country like Italy. Which is third in Europe, after Germany and France, in food production.

However, successive executives in recent decades have been committed to centralizing powers over this department. At the behest of the agricultural confederations, which have always held de facto political power over them, regardless of the colors of government flags.

Agricultural policies were thus joined by forestry policies, which logically should fall under the Ministry of Environment’s delegation of authority. And then the Food ones, once the former Ministry of Industry’s own. Which in turn has been stripped of all power in the absence of any industrial policies whatsoever.

MiPAAF, an acronym already unfamiliar to most, has recently added a T that does not stand for tobacco (an item of no small value, in Italian agriculture, but already included in the mandate), but for Tourism. After all-if eating is an agricultural act, as Carlin Petrini has always preached-any in-between activity between meals can fall into the voracious jaws of the Ministry’s grasping jaws.


‘Certified by.
‘ MiPAAF to MiPAAFT, on each label?

Rome’s Palace of Bureaucracy on Via XX Settembre has been farraginously implementing the yellow-green government’s political resolution. Demanding that all food labels under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture-and thus organic, PDO, PGI-are henceforth updated by adding the fateful T.

No longer MiPAAF but MiPAAFT, it should be written, in the margin of pompous as well as unnecessary and obvious wording, ‘Certified by Control Body authorized by Mipaaft‘ or ‘Certified by Public Authority designated by Mipaaft,’ as the case may be. Such endorsements, it should be noted, are not even required by European regulations on organic, PDO and PGI production. And therefore their legitimacy is questionable.

Minister Gian Marco Centinaio – from which the promised simplification of Rome’s obnoxious bureaucratic quibbles is expected – must now turn over a new leaf. Change the heads at the Palace of Bureaucracy, immediately eliminate the obligation to mention the pompous wording on the labels of protected products, initiate a policy based on the real priorities of the Italian agribusiness supply chain. Starting with themandatory indication of the origin of meat in public establishments.

Notes from MiPAAFT, ‘Directorate General for the Promotion of Agri-food Qualityare attached. The following is the position of AssoBio-the national association of organic product processing and distribution companies-which dutifully expresses its concrete application implications.

Dario Dongo

ATTACHMENTS

Circ. 2018 56944

Circ. 2018-12297


SPEECH BY ROBERTO PINTON, SECRETARY OF ASSOBIO (1)

The merging of tourism with agriculture? For now it brings farmers a new tax of hundreds of millions

Given that the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture Gian Marco Centinaio knows little about agriculture, while he knows in the field of tourism (he previously served as director sales of a tour operator), the competencies of his department were tailored to him, creating the unprecedented Ministry of Agriculture Food, Forestry
and Tourism,
with the acronym MiPAAFT.

So far, nothing wrong, to adapt to new strategies and please a minister, that and more.

Only that on August 2, the Ministry’s Directorate General for the Promotion of Agri-food Quality and Equestrianism, in a note Prot. n. 56944 (attached) informed all control bodies of PDO and PGI products that the words “Certified by Control Body authorized by the
Mipaaf
” and “Certified by public authority designated by the
Mipaaf
” to be mandatorily reported on labels shall be replaced by the words “Certified by Control Body authorized by the
Mipaaft
” or by “Certificate from Public Authority designated by the
Mipaaft
” .

And on August 9, the separate Directorate General for the Recognition of Inspection and Certification Bodies and Consumer Protection, by memo Prot. No.12297 (attached) informed all 16 control bodies in the organic sector (plus the three authorized to operate only in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano) that the wording to be compulsorily stated on the label “Control Body authorized by the
Mipaaf
” in effect since 2009 should be replaced by “Control body authorized by the
Mipaaft
“.

The notes make it clear that it is permissible to use the labels already made until they are exhausted (and they would be missed: companies had them printed with the then mandatory wording).

It sounds like a trifle or, well, a piece of news worthy of the attention of technical periodicals at most, but it is not.

In Italy we have 296 PDO and PGI products (from the A of
abbacchio romano
to the Z of
zampone Modena)
involving more than
83 thousand companies
(source: Istat) of which more than 7,500 are involved in processing.

Let’s add more than 600 PDO AND PGI wines (or, in the old fashioned way, DOCG, DOC and IGT), which are declined in the different variants: white, red, rosé, sparkling, passito, late harvest, even citing hundreds of sub-areas and grape varieties, weighing more than 70% of the national vine area (source: Italian Wine Union), produced by 125 thousand farms (source:Istat) with production varying from year to year, but hovering around 30 million hectoliters, which makes about 4 billion 0.75-liter bottles.
If we consider that the Chianti consortium alone has 3,000 producers of all sizes as members, and the Prosecco consortium groups 1,500 wineries and sparkling wine producers, and if we consider that each winery has a wide variety of products in its catalog, distinguished by appellation, blend, cru and production method, we can get a vague idea of the impact of provisions on label changes.

We then add more than
70 thousand companies
in the organic sector (more than 64 thousand farmers, 7,500 of whom process their products directly, and more than 7,500 processing-only enterprises, source: MiPAAFT).

Determining how many labels may be affected by the measure is impossible; one can only throw out a very conservative estimate of more than 2 million, intended to be applied to tens of billions of packages.

Well, all these
280,000 companies
(from the large dairy that exports Grana Padano to Japan to the micro-farm that packs two hundred jars of jam from its organic peaches to sell at markets, to the small winemaker that stays afloat just because bottles fifteen or so different labels instead of selling the grapes to the winery) will be forced to shell out a few hundred million (certainly not a productive investment, but a waste that cries out for vengeance in the sight of God): the seemingly trivial addition of a “t” (or, for the long-winded, a more exhaustive “and of tourism”) means, in fact, that the graphic design studio will have to be approached to change the executives of these 2 million labels.

Whatever you call it, it is an absurd special shoulder tax affecting thousands of farms, processors and distributors.

The tragic thing is that we are not talking about the anonymous commodities frowned upon by fans of the
made in Italy:
the provision penalizes the very companies in Italian supply chains whose excellence the ministry itself extols.

“The EU Geographical Indications system fosters the production system and the economy of the territory; protects the environment, because the indissoluble link with the territory of origin requires the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity; and supports the social cohesion of the entire community,”
writes the MiPAAF(T) on its website.
Ma
should add.
“And we tar it to enhance the tourism expertise of the new minister….”

The first point of the program presented to the Chambers by newly appointed Minister Centinaio is titled “
Simplification and organization”
, reads that the first instance is “
drastically reduce the costs of bureaucracy that burden the world of agriculture”
and expresses the commitment “In all actions we must minimize the burden of bureaucracy. A hidden cost of our companies, which too often spend days and days behind forms, requests, duplicate checks.” announcing that “
Simplification, therefore, should not be an empty word, but our hallmark.”

But there are also some other considerations:

(a) What is the utility of the change for the consumer? First he had no idea what MiPAAF was, now he will have no idea what MiPAAFT is….

(b) Since the authorization to control bodies or public authorities was issued at the time by MiPAAF decrees and on MiPAAF letterhead, how can the ministry require that a false claim be included on the label? MiPAAFT has only existed since August 15, 2018, when Law No. 9 of August 2018 came into effect. 97, which converted Decree Law July 12, 2018, no. 86, and since then has not yet authorized a single inspection body that is one.
If, because of the obvious link between an active lifestyle and wellness, jurisdiction over sports was transferred to the Ministry of Health, would the change in the packaging of aspirin and cough syrups be mandated, indicating the authorization as issued by the new hypothetical Ministry of Health and Sports?

(c) Worse: no European regulation prescribes indications such as “
Certified by Control Body authorized by Mipaaft.
“. The ministry, over time, has repeatedly shown impatience with the EU regulations, but the fact remains that national regulations cannot oblige label claims other than those strictly required by the relevant EU regulations.
In order to ensure the functioning of the single market and avoid the bedlam of 28 different legislations, the power of the member state to make its own provisions is strictly limited to specific problems relating only to reasons of public morality, public policy, public security, protection of the health and life of persons and animals or the preservation of plants, protection of national artistic, historical or archaeological heritage, protection of industrial and commercial property, or in the face of new scientific evidence pertaining to the protection of the environment or the working environment, excluding any other grounds. The ministry adopts regulations (the previous and the most recent) that must be disapplied due to conflict with hierarchically superior regulations, but in any case they give rise to disputes and minutes.

One of two things: either the ministry’s technicians have fed the newly appointed minister Centinaio a poisoned meatball that infuriates 280,000 companies or they are floating in a hyper-uranium a thousand miles away from the day-to-day reality of operators in the primary sector, which remains one of the most important to our country’s economy and deserves far different consideration.
And I don’t know which one is worse.

Roberto Pinton