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AGRICULTURE AND POLITICS

Minister Francesco Lollobrigida spoke to WineNews about Made in Italy, food sovereignty and wine

The Minister’s first official appearance to the wine world at the “Merano WineFestival” 2022: “we must protect our businesses and the quality of our production”
AGRICULTURE, FRANCESCO LOLLOBRIGIDA, MERANO WINEFESTIVAL, WINE, News
Minister Francesco Lollobrigida at the "Merano WineFestival” 2022

WineNews interviewed Francesco Lollobrigida, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, who chose the Merano WineFestival 2022 by Helmuth Köcher (in Merano, from November 4-8) as his first official appearance in front of wine producers and enthusiasts from all over Italy. He said that the first good result was "rescuing" funds on horizontal promotions in the European Union, together with France and Spain, and ”other large wine producing countries”. He thanked the winemakers and producers, the “men and women who produce Italian excellence that they then bring all over the world”. He emphasized, once again, that food and export sovereignty are fundamental for the success of Made in Italy agri-food companies. He continued, saying they are not “opposites, but rather, go hand in hand, because the more quality is protected, the more competitive it is”, and also because “Italy can compete only on the excellence of its products, and not on quantity”. Regarding the alcohol-health issue he said, “actions to combat everything that is abuse must be engaged”, but that this should not be confused with the conscious consumption of a product such as wine, which also has many beneficial properties.
As Minister, Francesco Lollobrigida said his first task will be to bring agriculture back to the center of the debate. “And we have already succeeded when we asked to include Food Sovereignty in the name of the Ministry. Sovereignty means protecting quality products, businesses, putting our producers back at center and guaranteeing quality products to end consumers. We must be the main players in contrast to globalization that says, "just eat and drink" regardless of what you eat and drink . This is exactly the reverse of what must be valued and protected in our territory, where small entrepreneurs and short supply chains have exalted our excellent products”.
The question arises, however, about how protecting Made in Italy and the food sovereignty of the Country can be combined with a sector that thrives and grows primarily on exports and trade relations, also made up of compromises, and the rest of the world. “They are not at all contrasting. Sovereignty is not autarchy, it is, instead, the defense of one's products and quality. The more we think about the fact that we are not competitive on quantity, but on quality, the more we protect it, and consequently, the more we will be able to export”. Most of the PDO and PGI products, whether they are wines or others, come from small Italian villages, which have many problems in terms of infrastructures, connections, Internet access, and more. These are the points where we must intervene. “There are limited resources, for now, in the PNRR, National Recovery and Resilience Plan”, Lollobridiga pointed out, “but we will try to get them back into the discussion, and implement networks, including sales. Here in South Tyrol they are an example, which also enable small entrepreneurs to enter private networks, in the hotel industry, but also mass retailers. The legislation on the supply chain contract has helped, but much more can be done”. The wine sector, instead, has been asking for bureaucratic simplifications for years as well as interventions on expensive energy, and protecting International promotion. So, we asked the Minister what his first measure will be, and the first action he will take for the wine world. He answered, “The first thing is that we have prevented a Commission measure on horizontal promotion from passing in Europe, by voting against it, together with Spain and France. Usually, Italy has not intervened on this”, underlined the Minister”, but the defense of Italian producers and quality is decisive for us”. The Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, of Fratelli d’Italia like Lollobrigida, mentioned Roger Scruton, conservative English philosopher, and irreverent author, who wrote the book, "I drink therefore I am", in his inauguration speech. Among other things, he said, “actually, wine is the door to spiritual life within everyone's reach . In today's hectic world where attention shifts quickly from one thing to another, wine makes us understand who we are and where we are going”. “Scruton? If you are asking me to judge what he wrote, I can only speak well of it. Wine is one of the excellent products of Europe and Italy”. Finally, he talked about a highly topical issue, i.e., revising health protection policies at the International level, and in policies promoted by WHO. Wine risks being unjustly accused in the trial against alcohol abuse, since wine, as many studies have proven, has little or nothing to do with it. But why shouldn't wine be considered just an alcoholic beverage, and shouldn't it be criminalized or discredited? “The WHO talks about combating abuse, in this sense anything that produces abuse can be harmful. Wine, for me and as many have said, also has healing qualities”.

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