Allegrini 2018

Wine at the heart of the revival of Italian food and agriculture: at WineNews, Minister Bellanova

“Proposed in CdM 1 billion to support catering”. Bottling of PDO and PGI wines outside of the area in an emergency: “no failure in protection”

Wine is at the center of the relaunch of the Italian agri-food industry, not only with the specific measures for the sector (emergency distillation and green harvesting) but also with others that concern the entire supply chain, from the revolving pledge with PDO and PGI products to guarantee credit to the support proposed to the catering industry and beyond. But also clarifications on the discussed measure on bottling outside the area for PDO and PGI in case of emergencies, which divided the representatives of the sector. There are many issues addressed by the Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova, in an interview with WineNews, between a Council of Ministers and the many government commitments of these hours, which also extended, among other things, the state of emergency for the pandemic, to October 15, 2020. Let us start with the measures on the ground: 50 million for emergency distillation, 100 million for green harvesting: these are the specific resources for wine allocated so far, partly taken from the National Support Plan, and then taken from other measures such as promotion. According to some, this is little for a sector that is worth over 12 billion euros in turnover just for production, and which represents the best of Italy in the world.
“There is also the extraordinary tax exemption for grape growers from January to June 2020 and the horizontal measures that apply to all sectors. There are the export pact funds, which see wine at the center of promotion. But it is not an issue of lists of measures,” emphasizes Minister Bellanova, “we are facing the most serious economic crisis since World War II and all sectors have been hit hard. Also for this reason I have always spoken of first emergency interventions, including the reprogramming of resources that otherwise risked not being used: for the relaunch will also need the 209 billion euros that will come to Italy from Europe. Without ideological approaches, but to accompany families and businesses in the recovery. And wine can only be a sector to protect and promote”. Many are calling for more specific measures for the highest quality wines, which are the ones that suffer the most together with catering. “I proposed to the Council of Ministers to introduce an Italian supply chain bonus with 1 billion euros to support the catering world. Our idea - specifies the Minister - is to provide 5,000 euros in non-repayable grants to restaurants to buy 100% Italian products, including wine of course. This is a supply chain measure because we want to reiterate that catering is an integral part of the food chain. I hope it will be adequately supported in order to be operational as soon as possible. We need to deal with the difficulties suffered by restaurants after closure and how many more are still being recorded in order to contain the pandemic. We must be aware that many restaurants have not yet reopened, and many may remain closed. We are dealing with a delicate and complex situation”. On the promotion front, many people insist on extending the possibility of using CMO funds for third countries in the EU as well and to extend the deadlines of the programs. “Since the first hours of the lockdown, our offices have been in constant contact with the European Commission to guarantee the necessary flexibility, not to lose resources, to help companies. I have repeatedly heard the EU Commissioner and reiterated the urgency of extraordinary measures in an emergency of this magnitude. The need to use CMO funds for third countries is very clear, but I would say that this must necessarily be balanced along with a strategy that safeguards and strengthens, first and foremost, the structural measures that the sector needs to improve its competitiveness and look far ahead. In particular on the front of investments, restructuring, conversion of vineyards and considering the growing need to strengthen the environmental sustainability of our viticulture”.
The instrument of pledges with PDO products as collateral to obtain liquidity is highly appreciated, but we are still missing the implementing decree. “I've signed the implementing decree and it's being registered at the Court of Auditors. We have deepened the text with a useful comparison with the productive world and the Consortia and I believe that the regulation introduces a simple path. For wine and oil, it is easier still, thanks to the use of telematic registers. There is now an extra liquidity facility available to businesses and banks and I am convinced that it will be as successful as it has been with other products. The recent agreements of some wine consortia with banking groups say that there is interest”.
More generally, from where will the engines of the Italian agri-food industry be fully restarted, a supply chain that has proved to be even more precious and fundamental in the midst of the COVID emergency? “I called it the chain of life. Because during the hardest days it has never stopped,” says Teresa Bellanova, “and has always guaranteed supplies. Even before the positive agreement reached in Europe, we presented some lines of action in our National Strategy for agriculture, food, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture. Let us imagine at least 4 billion euros of additional resources for the sector. The strategy identifies responses to a crisis generated in the present, unprecedented for its seriousness and magnitude, and at the same time builds and feeds a long look, to guarantee the future: strengthening businesses and supply chains; combating hydrogeological instability and protecting resources such as soil, water, forests; traceability and transparency on the origin of the food; international promotion; integral sustainability and safety in controls. To give answers to the present and plant the future. Italy can play a leading role in the European Green Deal game, being one of the real engines of proposals. This is the essential condition for agriculture, fishing, food and agriculture to establish themselves as sectors of the future, continuing to attract, as has happened so far, the new generations with important performances, signing the necessary pact between sustainability, research, innovation, quality, legality and labor protection. The future of the country system, the real revival, passes from here”. Returning to wine, it raises discussion the rule included in the Dl Semplificazioni, currently being converted into law by the Senate, which authorizes the bottling of PDO and PGI wine outside the area provided for by the regulations, in case of emergencies, certified by the intervention of the competent authorities, at the national or local level. According to some, such as the Cia-Agricoltori Italiani, this rule is unacceptable and legitimates unfair practices with difficulty; a common-sense rule which does not diminish the levels of protection of the denominations as it only acts in cases of recognized emergency, as claimed by Federvini and Icqrf among others.
One possibility, that of bottling outside the area, which was somehow already provided for in the European legislation already transposed in the Testo Unico del Vino. How are things going and why did the legislator feel the need to highlight and make this aspect more explicit?
"No failure to protect the quality of Italian wine, no indiscriminate authorization for bottling outside the area. In order to make it clear once and for all, an ad hoc circular is being issued indicating the Competent Authority called upon to decide, namely the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies and specifically the Department of Competitive Policies for Agrifood, Horse Racing and Fishing Quality, and the only necessary and contextual circumstances for which the exemption may be authorized: the declaration of natural disasters, or the implementation of sanitary or phytosanitary measures, or other causes of force majeure; the temporary obstacle for operators to comply with the production regulations. Only in the face of these circumstances, which I repeat must be concomitant, and in response to a specific request from the parties concerned, may be taken measures of “temporary amendment” of the specific PDO or PGI production specifications, under the procedures laid down, in order to be able to bottle PDO or PGI wine batches temporarily outside the relevant demarcated area”.

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