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Allegrini 2018
AGRICULTURE AND POLITICS

Record agri-food exports in 2020, despite Covid: a strong signal from which to restart

The reactions of Confagricoltura, Coldiretti, Cia - Agricoltori Italiani, Copagri and Slow Food to the words of Mario Draghi
AGRICULTURE, CIA AGRICOLTORI ITALIANI, Coldiretti, CONFAFRICOLTURA, COPAGRI, DRAGHI, EXPORT, FOOD, SLOW FOOD, WINE, News
Record agri-food exports in 2020, despite Covid: a strong signal to restart from

With the attention focused on the pandemic and the inauguration of the Draghi government, the news of another record for Italian agri-food exports in 2020 has gone somewhat unnoticed: 46.1 billion euros between agricultural products (+0.7%) and food, beverages and tobacco (+1.9%), according to ISTAT data, the only growing items in addition to pharmaceuticals, in a year in which Italian exports fell by -9.7%, with the agri-food sector accounting for over 10% of the total. An economic, social and occupational pillar, that of the supply chain from the field to the tables of the world, from which it will be fundamental to start again to bring the country out of the storm of the pandemic, also facing the changes and innovations that Premier Mario Draghi spoke about in his speech to the Senate of the Republic, which received consensus and openness to collaboration from the main trade organizations, from Confagricoltura to Coldiretti, from Cia - Agricoltori Italiani to Copagri, passing through Slow Food, which strongly appreciated the centrality of issues related to the environment and sustainability in Draghi’s words.
“Protecting the future of the environment, reconciling it with progress and social welfare, helping businesses and workers in the tourism sector, and, as part of active labor policies, improving existing tools, strengthening policies for training workers. The priorities indicated by Premier Draghi today in the Senate place agriculture at the center of politics in a crucial phase of the country”, said the president of Confagricoltura, Massimiliano Giansanti, who added: “the challenges of the primary sector are directed towards innovation, digitalization, environmental, social and economic sustainability. Confagricoltura hopes that, on the basis of the line outlined by Draghi, the PNRR will be revised by allocating resources in favor of tangible and intangible infrastructure, research and technological development, crucial for the recovery of internal areas. These are issues on which Palazzo della Valle has been fighting for a long time, in the belief that the agri-food sector, the first item of GDP, is crucial to achieving the objectives. Confagricoltura is present and, with its companies, is ready to do its part even more for the progress and well-being of Italy”.

“We are ready to collaborate for the development of Italian agriculture, which is the greenest in Europe thanks to the leadership gained for added value, sustainability and quality”, added the president of Coldiretti, Ettore Prandini. “Italian agriculture - underlines Prandini - has the primacy in the European Union with 311 PDO/PGI specialties recognized at EU level and 526 PDO/PGI wines, 5155 traditional regional products surveyed along the Peninsula, the leadership in organic farming with over 70,000 organic farms, as well as the primacy of food safety with the lowest number of food products with irregular chemical residues. But it is also a reality that on the respect for the environment and the quality of products bases its competitiveness that has allowed to obtain in 2020 the historical record of exports to 46.1 billion in sharp contrast to other sectors overwhelmed by the Covid pandemic. With the crisis, the food chain has become the first wealth of the country with a value that exceeds 538 billion, ensures from the fields to the shelves 3.6 million jobs thanks to the activity of, among others, 740,000 farms, 70,000 food industries, over 330,000 realities of the restaurant and 230,000 retail outlets. Digitization of the countryside, urban forests to mitigate pollution and smog in the city, reservoirs in inland areas to save water, green chemistry and bioenergy to combat climate change and specific interventions in deficit sectors and in difficulty from cereals to livestock to olive oil are some of the strategic projects developed by Coldiretti for the Recovery Plan”, concluded Prandini in stressing that “we must start again by investing in the strengths of the country”.

“Agriculture can play a leading role to get out of the crisis triggered by the pandemic and look to a more sustainable and green recovery. The resources of the Recovery Plan to the primary sector can act as a multiplier to build a new model of socio-economic and environmental development of Italian territories, relaunching rural areas, which represent more than half of the national surface with 11 million citizens. The role of agriculture - says, for his part, the president of Cia-Agricoltori Italiani, Dino Scanavino - is evolving today in many directions, not only the productive one that remains clearly central, as demonstrated in recent months with the sector guarantor of food supply, but contributes to the maintenance of the territories and, now, can act as a pivot of the integrated development of the country, in a perspective of interconnected systems, with the aim of increasing the competitiveness of the food system, but also to produce energy from renewable sources, protect the landscape, safeguard the soil and forests to prevent hydrogeological instability, improve the sustainability of production processes with new digital technologies, blockchain and renewal of the machinery fleet. It will then be necessary a Recovery Plan that, instead of subsidies to rain, provides for robust investments, both in infrastructure and in digitization and services, starting from the internal areas. We have the future of Italy in front of us, now we need to plan new strategies to implement the green transition with the contribution of Italian farmers, true sentinels of the territory, and together with all economic and social forces of the country”.

“Recalling once again the great contribution to the socio-economic stability of the country made by agricultural producers, who have always ensured the regular supply of shelves with a sense of responsibility, we appreciate the attention paid by the Prime Minister to the need to preserve the future of the environment by reconciling it with progress and social welfare - said the president Copagri, Franco Verrascina - and focusing on a new approach that combines agriculture, health, energy, education and protection of territories and biodiversity from global warming and the greenhouse effect, not to mention the digitization and modernization of the sector; an answer in this sense can also come from the recognition at national level, repeatedly requested by Copagri, of the farmer as guardian of the environment and territory”.

Words of appreciation for Draghi’s speech also come from Slow Food, according to which the Prime Minister “touched on some issues of crucial importance for the real paradigm shift that Slow Food has been insisting on for some time now. The historic moment we are living in, the authority and experience of the new prime minister, the timeframe he mentioned-what we will be doing in 2050-and the political boundaries he looked beyond-Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Africa-make us look to the coming days and the first proposals with expectation and confidence. Draghi highlighted the importance of biodiversity, a theme on which, for over thirty years, Slow Food has been working with concrete projects, such as the Presidia and the Slow Food Alliance of Chefs, and acknowledged that the space taken away from nature may have been one of the causes of the transmission of the virus from animals to humans”. He recalled again the words of Pope Francis that “natural tragedies are the Earth's response to our mistreatment”. He mentioned hydrogeological instability, to which Slow Food would also add the dramatic loss of soil (and soil fertility) to which our country is subject. The awareness of the need to articulate the National Recovery and Resilience Plan around the theme of environmental protection expressed by the Prime Minister represents, according to Slow Food, the starting point for the process of economic recovery. Promising, in this sense, is Mario Draghi’s reference to agriculture, to the beauty of Italy based on art and landscape, to the importance of internal areas and tourism that does not devastate the territory. We would like to see among the first interventions of the Draghi government the theme that, according to Slow Food, allows a 360° reading of the productive, economic, cultural and social system in which we live, one of the main causes of the climate and environmental crises, but also among the first solutions to resolve them. In this first speech, we would have liked to hear about food and those who produce and transform it, those thousands of small farms that take care of territories and landscapes, that make up the fabric of Italian communities, of small villages that respectful tourism does not devastate but nourishes. This is a topic at the heart of the latest commitments undertaken by the European Union with the Biodiversity Strategies and Farm to Fork, which can allow us to work from a single perspective on the 17 goals of sustainable development of the UN Agenda 2030, which brings together the commitment of young people and women, the protection of the landscape and support for small economies. If it is true that “every waste today is a wrong that we do to the next generations, a subtraction of their rights”, then it is from the food we consume every day, from harmony with the natural resources with which it is produced, from the rights of those who produce it and from guarantees for consumers that, according to Slow Food, we must start.

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