Italian rabbit farming in crisis, unknown origin and price speculation. Question to the European Parliament

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Italian rabbit farming is in crisis, due to price speculation that is also affecting pig and beef farming in this historical period.

Speculation is even more pronounced, on rabbit meat, because of the unknown origin of the products for sale on the shelf.

A question from the European Parliament, hopeful signs in Brussels, strategy needed.

Italian rabbit farming, price speculation

Parliamentary Question 7.10.20 has as its subject ‘mandatory origin labeling for rabbit meat to protect Made in Italy production‘. (1) In the foreword, he refers to the alarm raised by Coldiretti in Treviso regarding speculation on prices of Made in Italy rabbit meat. The price recognized to producers is reported to be €1.2/kg, compared with a consumer selling price apparently constant at €8-9/kg. Therefore, farmers are not even able to cover their production costs and the sector is in crisis.

The rabbit farms in the province of Treviso – the most productive in Italy, with 2.5 out of a total of 20 million animals raised in the Bel Paese – report ‘strong distortions in the determination of the production price in the rabbit market.’ Speculation on rabbit meat prices has also been reported in both the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna regions, where its production is concentrated.

Unfair competition?

MEP Mara Bizzotto states that ‘this situation is also caused by unfair competition from countries, both European and non-European, that export rabbit meat below cost and of dubious quality to the Italian market.’ And he asks whether the Commission intends to extend the origin labeling requirement to rabbit meat, i.e. ‘Strengthen controls on imports from non-EU countries and unfair intra-EU competition to protect Italian producers‘.

For good memory, the same Venetian politician already sat in the European Parliament, when it was there that it was decided to limit the mandatory indication of origin to pork, poultry and egg-goat meat only (EU reg. 1169/11). Excluding burrowers but also equine, game, ostriches, frogs, snails (and insects). Instead, the concepts of ‘unfair competition‘ and ‘dubious quality,’ without a shred of evidence, leave time to be found.

Signs of hope in Brussels

European Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, in her response 15.1.21, offers hopeful signs that go beyond the content of the question on Italian rabbit farming and also affect other production sectors. (2) In fact, the ‘Farm to Fork‘ strategy, announced in Brussels on 20.5.20, includes innovations in origin labeling. (3)

‘The Commission will consider proposing the extension of mandatory indications of origin or provenance to certain products, taking full account of the impacts on the single market.

The goal of this initiative is to enable consumers to more easily identify the origin of food and help them make informed and sustainable food choices.’ (2)

Animal husbandry in Italy, what strategies?

Animal husbandry in Italy remains squeezed between the anvil of the feeders-with raw material costs now skyrocketing-and the hammer of the slaughterers (or the dairy industry, as the case may be). The industry and distribution tell fairy tales about animal welfare–outside of only controlled supply chains, e.g., organic and antibiotic-free (4)–but force farmers to the edge of underpricing. Nonsense.

Instead of complaining about the market, we need to learn how to manage it. Following the example of Consorzio Italiano Zootecnia, which has also already been initiated by Assoavi and API (Italian Fish Farmers Association). (5) Organize producers into an association independent of agricultural unions and politics, work on the CMO (Common Market Organization), a National Livestock Quality System (SNQZ) that considers animal welfare instead of shunning it, and the Italian Seal Consortium. Interprofessional goal.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Question with request for written answer to the European Commission, 7.10.20 (E-005494/2020)
(2) Response by Stella Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission, 15.1.2021
(3) Dario Dongo. Farm to Fork special, the strategy presented in Brussels on 5/20/20. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 5/24/20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/speciale-farm-to-fork-la-strategia-presentata-a-bruxelles-il-20-5-20
(4) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Antibiotic-free poultry farming, the Italian way. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 14.12.20 https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/avicoltura-senza-antibiotici-la-via-italiana
(5) Dario Dongo. The Italian miracle of cattle breeding. Presented the Charter of Padua to enhance the value of Made in Italy. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5/27/17, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/il-miracolo-italiano-della-zootecnia-bovina-presentata-la-carta-di-padova-per-valorizzare-il-made-in-italy