Coldiretti and the golden calf, Sannio farmers up in arms. #CleanSpades

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Sannio farmers are animating the revolt against the Coldiretti magic circle that in the south of Italy, as in the rest of Italy, carries on the assault on the golden calf (1,2).

At stake is the Italian livestock system, 60 years of sacrifices and public contributions still being made to guarantee the biodiversity at the heart of Made in Italy food. (3)

Serious anomalies were reported at the latest meetings of the ARAC (Campania, Molise) and ANABIC (Italian beef cattle) breeders’ associations, under the complicit silence of the institutions. #CleanSpades.

ARAC Campania and Molise, kicking off after 10 years

ARAC-the Regional Livestock Breeders Association of Campania and Molise, which expresses the second largest livestock area in Italy after Lombardy-has been commissarial for more than 10 consecutive years. And it was not until October 2020 that the possibility of resuming its day-to-day management was finally on the horizon. To this end, a meeting was convened on 10/15/20 to elect corporate bodies.

All breeder members should have been summoned ‘at least 15 (fifteen) days before the day set for the separate meeting by means of postal notice addressed to the individual members present in the Province.’ (4) But something went wrong.

ARAC, false start

‘We became aware of the ARA Assembly scheduled for the Campania Region on 15.10.20 only after that date and in a completely random manner since we (about 200), nor other members known to us, had not received the convocations as required by the statute.’ (5)

200 Sannio Beneventano breeders registered with ARAC, in PECs also sent to MiPAAF, complain that they were never summoned to the meeting 15.10.20. (5) So did other breeder members in the provinces of Caserta, Salerno and Avellino. As evidence of convening irregularities, in the Province of Avellino some letters were mailed on 10/13/20 and received after the meeting itself. (6)

Breeders excluded, social books hidden

On 9.12.20, a delegation of the breeders excluded from the meeting 15.10.20, although members of ARAC, went to the headquarters and asked director Augusto Calbi for a view:

– outcome of voting at the said assembly and names of those elected at the said assembly,

– book partners,

– Book of meetings and resolutions of shareholders’ meetings (the keeping of which is prescribed by the Civil Code, Article 2421).

The director gave specious reasons for not producing these documents. Following law enforcement intervention, the farmers filled out a written request, which the ARAC director signed for acceptance but did not follow up on. (7) The same petitions remained unanswered in subsequent meeting 28.1.21.

Breeders excluded, street demonstration

On Jan. 15.1.21 , farmers excluded from the ARAC 15.10.20 assembly demonstrated in front of the Benevento headquarters of the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of Campania Region. Complaining how ARAC–always punctual in sending out dues payment requests by mail–had failed to mail hundreds of summonses to said assembly. Preventing its member farmers from choosing and voting on candidates for corporate bodies. (8)

ARAC management alleged that they had carried out the mailings through a private mail service, but did not provide any concrete evidence in this regard even at the request of the lawyers of the excluded breeder members. The latter, at the end of the event, submitted a request for invalidation of the meeting 15.10.20 and ritual call for a new assembly of all registered members. (9)

Absent institutions

Reports of what happened, requests for clarification, requests to exercise the role of institutional control and supervision were addressed in vain to various institutions and agencies, repeatedly (9,10). Among them:

– Ministry of Agriculture Food and Forestry,

– Campania Region (Regional Council and Chairman, Agriculture Commission and its Assessor),

– House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture.

– AIA (Italian Breeders Association),

– agricultural professional organizations,

– ANA (Italian Breeders’ Associations).

Evasive and superficial answers. MiPAAF pulled out on the grounds that control over ARAC was, if anything, the responsibility of the Campania Region. (11) The Campania Region has declared itself incompetent over association dynamics. (12) AIA, to which every ARA should respond, even reacted with outrage. So much for Article 39 of the Italian Constitution, which stipulates that the statutes of trade unions must establish-and of course abide by-‘an internal order on a democratic basis.’

ARAC, Coldiretti’s siege.

The ARAC bylaws indicate that provincial (separate) meetings should be attended only by member livestock farmers (individual or associate-run) and livestock producer organizations (e.g., POs, cooperatives) based in the relevant province. However, the participation of trade unions (e.g., Coldiretti, CIA, Confagricoltura) is not expected. Indeed, these assemblies must ensure the effective representation of local farmers in setting association strategies.

Coldiretti, however, laid siege to ARAC’s 15.10.20 provincial assembly in Benevento, for the obvious purpose of influencing the choices of the few farmers summoned. Indeed, the presence, not included in the minutes, of Coldiretti Campania director Salvatore Loffreda is reported. In addition to Tommaso Nuzzolo (Coldiretti local unit manager) and Gianluigi Pinto (Coldiretti employee by paternal inheritance), as members of the said assembly’s election committee.

ANABIC, assembly 14.10.20

ANABIC–National Association of Breeders of Italian Beef Cattle–in turn held its own assembly to vote on corporate bodies on 14.10.20. For the first time in Benevento, certainly not the easiest location to reach for farmers arriving from six regions (Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria, Sicily).

The call, sent via PEC to breeders 15 days in advance, set a one-week (7.10.20) deadline for submission of applications. Many farmers, however, entrust the management of their PECs to local Coldiretti offices, which apparently failed to inform the non-aligned and several non-Coldiretti members. With the result of preventing their participation and candidacy.

ANABIC Assembly, Coldiretti pickets.

Farmers who went to the ANABIC assembly in Benevento on 14.10.20 found a ‘picket’ of Coldiretti employees and representatives at the entrance, including the one who was elected ARAC president the following day. They would distribute materially to each of those present:

– A facsimile ballot, with the names to be voted, (13)

– proxies to members present at the meeting, bearing signatures (true or false?) of non-attending breeders, presumed to be from other regions since they were unknown to the proxy members.

Modus operandi

The Coldiretti magic circle has been running a very expensive autonomous and self-referential ‘militant apparatus’ for decades, which needs new and increasingly rich coal deposits to fuel its ancient and inefficient boilers. Indeed, to the luxurious splendors of Palazzo Rospigliosi are added the multimillion-dollar compensation of top executives and generous appointments to loyalists in every area of the Bel Paese. And the army of loyalists seems to apply the same methods to conquer new territories and supply chains where they drain public and private funding.

The ‘muscular’ actions described in the previous paragraphs are covered by celebrations of the virtuous deeds of a system that has absolute dominance over news agencies and media outlets (newspapers, TV, websites). Dissenting voices find no space and opponents are treated with carrot and stick. First you try to tame them and then, if they resist, you stiffen the tone. The writer and several others have recorded this treatment firsthand, in various ways (14,15). So too did a representative of Sannio farmers, whom Coldiretti emissaries tried to ‘convince’ to put to rest any controversy about possible election fraud and ideological forgeries in social documents.

Carrot and stick

Salvatore Loffredaregional director of Coldiretti Campania, as well as provincial director of Coldiretti Naples (with responsibility for agriculture in the Chamber of Commerce), provincial co-director of Coldiretti Avellino. Salvatore Loffreda is actually a ‘proboviro’ of ARAC, although a previous disqualification of him from public office for ‘Serious evidence of liability for the crimes of abetting abuse of office and extortion‘ does not plead in favor of the prescribed ‘honorability, he intervened to respond to a PEC sent not to Coldiretti, it should be noted, but to ARAC. He tried to ‘approach’ the complainant, over the phone, inviting him to ask ‘what you need in ARAC‘.

Davide Minicozzinewly appointed president of ARAC, provincial delegate of Coldiretti Giovani Impresa Benevento. As well as president of D.A.Q. (‘quality agri-food district’) Sannio and the GAL Fortore Consortium – instead went to the home of the farmer member who filed the complaints, on 20.12.20. To try to convince him with different arguments, ‘you tell me how wehave to resolve this,’ ‘mo’ we have to resolve, sadd’ammortà everything,’ ‘you don’t have to go there to the lawsuit [i.e., to bring a lawsuit, ed.], for so many reasons,’ ‘in my opinion… youare getting into a really bad alley‘.

#CleanSpades

The events described above and precisely documented confirm the modus operandi of the Coldiretti magic circle in its assault on the golden calf. The livestock system is structured in private associations but is largely financed-like the entire Coldiretti bandwagon, whose budgets have never been published (16)-by national, regional and European public funds. With the aggravating factor of a blatant conflict of interest, between the director general of AGEA (General Agency for Agricultural Disbursements) and Coldiretti, which has already been denounced by five MEPs and a senator of the Italian Republic without receiving a response to date. (17)

Bringing clarity to the events reported above and the many others mentioned in previous articles on this site (#CleanAngles) is a top priority in a rule of law where the agribusiness sector is a strategic asset. Ensuring the full legality of the operations and governance of entities managing public money is all the more imperative in view of the avalanche of funding allocated through the Recovery Fund (#NextGenerationEU).

‘This country will become beautiful’ (Paolo Borsellino)

Any circumstantial news and documents useful in shedding light on the anomalies and malfeasance found in the management of public resources of Italian farmers and ranchers can be sent to vanghepulite@gmail.com.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, AIA and the golden calf. #Clean spades urgently needed. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 9.2.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/coldiretti-aia-e-il-vitello-d-oro-vanghepulite-urgono

(2) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, AIA and the golden calf. Operation AIA 2, aka FEDANA. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 25.2.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/coldiretti-aia-e-il-vitello-d-oro-l-operazione-aia-2-alias-fedana

(3) Dario Dongo. AIA, FEDANA and the golden calf, farmers in revolt. The example of ANARB. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.3.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/aia-fedana-e-il-vitello-d-oro-allevatori-in-rivolta-l-esempio-di-anarb

(4) ARAC Statute, Art. 21.

(5) Sanniti Breeders, PEC 4.11.20 to MiPAAF (sending report), PEC 5.12.20 to MiPAAF, Agriculture Commission Chamber of Deputies, President Campania Region, Campania Region Councillors, Agriculture Councillor Campania Region, Agriculture Commission Campania Region, Agricultural Professional Organizations, AIA, ANA (request invalidation assembly)

(6) AIA, Massive Mail Italian Post 13.10.20 11:56 a.m.

(7) Excluded breeders, written request for company books to ARAC director, 9.12.20

(8) Sanniti and regional breeders in the streets against exclusion from the Arac assembly election. NTR TV. 15.1.21, http://www.ntr24.tv/2021/01/15/allevatori-sanniti-e-regionali-in-piazza-contro-lesclusione-dallelezione-dellassemblea-arac/

(9) Sanniti Breeders, PEC 5.12.20 to MiPAAF, Chamber of Deputies Agriculture Commission, Campania Region President, Campania Region Councillors, Campania Region Agriculture Councillor, Campania Region Agriculture Commission, Agricultural Professional Organizations, AIA, ANA (request invalidation of assembly)

(10) Sanniti breeders, PEC 6.2.21 to ARA and ARAC, warning to comply

(11) MIPAAF, DISR 07. Prot. 20.11.20 n. 9327930, response to request for invalidation of assembly

(12) Campania Region, 12/16/20 10:21 a.m., Prof. PG2020/0600730, response to request for invalidation assembly

(13) Voting card distributed in photocopy by Coldiretti in ANABIC Assembly 14.10.2020

(14) Dario Dongo. Federconsorzi 2 aka CAI SpA, some clarity. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 3/15/21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/federconsorzi-2-alias-cai-spa-un-po-di-chiarezza

(15) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti Lombardia, president on trial for extortion. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 21.3.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/coldiretti-lombardia-il-presidente-a-processo-per-estorsione

(16) The Antitrust Authority has in turn remarked on ‘the unavailability of public accounting records relating to Coldiretti (understood as a system to which both the national confederation and the various local branches belong).’ Although ‘it appears from open sources how at least territorial structures of Coldiretti – in particular, a provincial federation – currently hold stakes in important national companies operating in the dairy sector, and what is more, in partnership with leading operators in the same sector who are productively active both in Italy and abroad. It also appears that in the governing and representative bodies of Coldiretti, both at the level of the national confederation and at the level of individual local federations, are seated individuals with direct interests in dairy enterprises. Finally, it is well known that Coldiretti is associated with a large number of businesses active in the dairy sector, with respect to which the organization, in addition to carrying out activities to represent and defend common interests, provides services of various kinds, including business consulting‘ (Antitrust, case AS1590, communication 12.6.19 to the Ministry of Health. In Bulletin no. 25/19, https://www.agcm.it/dotcmsdoc/bollettini/2019/25-19.pdf)

(17) Dario Dongo. Conflict of interest AGEA – Pagliardini – Coldiretti, questions to the European Parliament. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 30.1.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/conflitto-d-interessi-agea-pagliardini-coldiretti-interrogazioni-al-parlamento-europeo