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Winemakers are custodians of the land: campaign by Fivi for their recognition is underway

They remain the only ones to combat the depopulation of inland areas, the abandonment of agricultural activities, the risk of hydrogeological disrupti
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Fivi launches campaign to recognize vineyard sentinels of the countryside

It is essential to understand that farmers have a social role that pursues the common good, and that it is in the collective interest that they can continue to work and act positively on the territory: the depopulation of inland areas, the abandonment of agricultural activities and the consequent increase in the risk of hydrogeological instability is a problem that affects everyone, even those who live in the city. An alliance between institutions, farmers and citizens is therefore in everyone’s interest: this is supported by the Fivi (Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti - Italian Federation of Independent Winegrowers), which is launching the campaign “Vignaioli custodians of the territory”, with a collection of signatures, both through stalls in wineries and markets and on change.org, to support and urge the bill, already under consideration by Parliament, for the recognition of the figure of the farmer as a “sentinel”. The campaign will last from today until mid-April, when the results of the signature collection will be made public at Vinitaly.
“We decided to organize a signature collection because we want to involve citizens, all of them, not just those who live in rural areas”, explains Lorenzo Cesconi, president of Fivi. “In many territories, especially the most extreme ones, there where other agricultural activities have disappeared, winemakers have remained. Every day, with their work, they contribute to designing the rural landscape and making the territory more solid”. In 1961, Italian farms cultivated and guarded 270,000 square kilometers of Italian land. By 2010, this area had shrunk by more than a third to 170,000 square kilometers: in some regions, the collapse was more than 50 percent. In 2021, Agricultural Census No. 7 found a further decrease, falling below 165,000 square kilometers. In recent decades, the land abandoned by farms has not been taken over by anyone else. The results in terms of landscape degradation and hydrogeological risk are there for all to see: the extreme weather events that hit Italy in 2023 - an increase of 22% over the previous year - have contributed to making it even more evident how much more vulnerable and fragile abandoned and unguarded land is.
The Independent Winemakers (Fivi), i.e., the wineries that personally follow the entire wine production chain, from the cultivation of the grapes to bottling and sale, are among the agricultural entities most deeply rooted in the territory, because of the territory they cannot do without: they have a deep relationship with it, based on a knowledge that has often been handed down for generations. This is because the territory is not just a designation on the label of their bottles, but is the element that helps define the character, uniqueness and authenticity of their wines. ”Let’s think about the thousands of kilometers of dry stone walls and terracing that characterize the slope areas of many Italian territories, but let’s also think about the minute preventive actions that agricultural activity naturally carries out, in its daily operations”, Lorenzo Cesconi continues. “However, these actions are not always valued: sometimes they are not even allowed. That is why it is important for Parliament to legislate to recognize winegrowers and farmers in general as custodians of the land, and for the regions to quickly implement the law”.
Currently under consideration in the Chamber of Deputies are the bills “Provisions for the recognition of the figure of the farmer as custodian of the environment and the territory and for the establishment of the National Agriculture Day” and “Recognition of the figure of the farmer and the farmer as custodian of the environment and the territory and delegation to the government for the protection and promotion of the activity carried out by them”: Fivi agrees with their contents and supports their approval, thanking the signatories and the chairmen of the committees for the effort being made. Not only that: once the law is approved, Fivi urges all Regional Councils to adopt the national text through a participatory process of all the actors in the agricultural world, so that the figure of the farmer as custodian of the land does not remain just a formal statement but can be realized concretely: fundamental in this sense will be the guarantee of streamlined bureaucratic processes that do not discourage farmer initiative, and of adequate training to ensure a coherent framework for intervention in the territory.

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