Mandatory origin of rice on label. Minister Martina announces the decree

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Mandatory origin of rice on label. Minister Maurizio Martina finally announced the decree to introduce it. Good news, pending the actual developments.

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry met in Rome on April 13, 2017, with the agriculture councillors of the Piedmont and Veneto regions, Giorgio Ferrero and Giuseppe Pan. Along with representatives of agricultural and industry organizations, and the National Rice Board.

Mandatory origin of rice on label to support Made in Italy products

Italian rice production – first in Europe, in quantity (1) and variety – is plagued by an intolerable market crisis. Downward price lists are affected by competition from Asian rice, imported at zero duty into the European Union. And the supply of native varieties remains largely untapped.

A plan of action to enhance local production and protect the income of Italian rice farmers has been announced. With a commitment to allocate 2 million euros in the‘promotion of rice qualities,’ and a number of specific measures. Measures that on closer inspection the House of Representatives had called for as early as November 2015, with several motions by the 5 Star Movement.

The mandatory origin of rice on the label would reportedly be included in a decree that has already won the approval of Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda. And therefore:

in Italy, mandatory origin labeling is expected to be piloted soon. With duty to specify the country of cultivation and the country of processing,‘in a conspicuous place‘ on the package. Only on rice processed and/or packaged and marketed in our country. Indeed, the principle of free movement of goods, prevents the extension of the rule to products legitimately made in the EU. (2) Meanwhile,

in Europe, the Italian government promises to take an active role in promoting the mandatory origin of rice on the label on every product processed and/or packaged in the EU. On closer inspection, EU Regulation 1169/11 had stipulated that the European Commission should consider extending mandatory indication of origin to single-ingredient foods, among others. But Brussels, despite repeated reminders from the European Parliament, has gone in the opposite direction.

Curbing the damage of zero-duty imports

Zero-duty EU imports are also targeted by the minister, who promises to ask the European Commission to urgently activate the so-called safeguard clause. The only way to immediately plug the wounds caused by Europe’s neoliberal policies to the rice supply chain. (3)

In the medium term, the minister adduces, Regulation (EU) 978/2012 should be revised, (4) introducing‘stronger mechanisms to protect producers’ incomes.’ In the meantime, it would call for the activation of quantitative quotas to zero-duty rice imports from LDCs. But it is hard to believe that the words of agricultural ministers from the few rice-producing member states (Portugal, Spain, France, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria) will be able to influence European trade policies. (5)

Notes

(1) Italian rice is grown on 234 thousand hectares by 4,265 rice farms and processed by 100 rice companies. For a total value of 1 billion euros (compared to 3 of the total value in Europe)

(2) Respect for the principle of free trade was not enough to prevent the United States and Canada from declaring war on Italian decrees on the origin of milk and wheat

(3) Adding to the depression of price lists is the worsening of stocks, +45% in Italy (260,111 tons) compared to the previous campaign (+24% EU, to 546,000 tons)

(4) Reg. (EU) 978/2012 applies a system of generalized tariff preferences in favor of LDCs. In the name of international aid (EBA, Everything But Arms) the mercantile interests of the oligarchs on both sides are favored. With no spillover effect on the average income of theoretically beneficiary populations

(5) From solemn principles to harsh reality, free trade reigns. And Brussels bureaucrats care neither for the integrity of the far-flung production chains (in terms of health, environmental, safety and worker protection), nor for the impact of their foodstuffs on the market and domestic supply chains. Dumping