If EU farms are dismantled, imports will increase
From the European Institutions could come legislative measures that would apply to livestock farms the Directive on environmental certification applied to industries. The agricultural sector doesn’t agree. Instead of penalties, it is necessary to incentivize sustainable models.
Measures are coming from Europe that – if not stopped or modified – are worrying a large part of the agricultural sector: the idea is to apply to livestock farms the Directive on environmental certification applied to industries.
The measure originates from the European Green New Deal provisions that set the goal of “net zero emissions” of greenhouse gases by 2050. In application of this, “We decided to go back to Directive 75 of 2010, which deals with environmental certifications,” Angelo Gamberini explains on the pages of Agronotizie.
Only last year, the Academy of Georgofili – in the analysis “Improvisations, falsehoods and journalistic clamour about livestock farms and animal products” – expressed “a strong concern for disseminating information that is not based on rigorous scientific bases and that spreads data far from true”. They warned on the effects of such propaganda and journalistic initiatives and on the risk of how all this could risk harming a sector that “represents an extraordinary value of the ‘made in Italy’ and contributes decisively to define a large part of the Italian landscape, a national heritage recognized by the Constitution”. They also expressed concern for “the hundreds of thousands of workers within the system of animal production and see the future of their work threatened by disparaging campaigns incomprehensible to them because far from the reality of the facts”. In light of the European proposal, a message that sounds highly present.
European and Italian farms at risk. Here are the comments by Cia and Coldiretti
Increased costs and “red tape” could result in farm closures in Europe and increased imports. A mockery for a country like Italy that boasts in food and wine many made in Italy products, PDO, PGI and that – as shown by Ispra data – is among the most virtuous models.
Coldiretti also points out that the rule would put “at risk thousands of Italian farms” “that are already paying a very high cost for the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine”. An unacceptable choice – Ettore Prandini said, president of Coldiretti – risks closing down many farms with a new load of bureaucracy that increases the costs of the livestock system (…). “At a time when the need to focus on food security and self-sufficiency is becoming increasingly evident, there is a risk in Brussels of making choices that opens up the way for synthetic meat,” Prandini says, pointing out that “Italian meat is born from a livestock farming system that for safety, sustainability and quality have no equal in the world. It is also consolidated thanks to enhancement initiatives by farmers, with the adoption of controlled nutrition, restrictive animal husbandry regulations, electronic traceability systems and forms of direct meat sales”.
Also, the CIA Italian Farmers emphasizes how “to put on the same level the national (small and medium enterprises) livestock farms and the industrial plants, risks to ulteriorly subject the livestock farming system to the negative judgment from the public opinion. We must remember the enormous progress made on sustainability, reducing emissions and increasing the welfare of animals. Improving the quality and sustainability of livestock farming is now a shared goal of all livestock companies, which have long been working with the utmost attention to protecting the environment. Thanks to the application of the best available techniques and the optimization of the raw materials used, our farms aim to achieve the best possible level of protection for the health of citizens”.
To hinder the livestock farms would mean increasing the additional EU imports, damaging the “made in Italy”. The new choices EU – as also Ettore Prandini emphasized – “risk to open the doors to the imports of meat from third countries that often have lower standards of food safety and greater environmental impacts of those Europeans. Defending the “Made in Italy” meat – Prandini concludes – also means “supporting a system made of animals, meadows for fodder and especially people committed to combating depopulation and degradation for entire generations, even in difficult areas”.
A measure that would put small farmers at risk
Small farmers are particularly affected. Luigi Scordamaglia, Filiera Italia, emphasized how this would translate into “new bureaucratic obligations at a high cost, also for cattle farms of just 100 heads or for pig farms of over 400 heads”. “All farms of medium size constitute the backbone of the livestock system and the production of PDO and PGI in our country”. The Managing Director of Filiera Italia also reiterated that “the European Commission is continuing with an operation to dismantle European agri-food production, bringing ever closer a scenario of total food insecurity for European citizens”.
Avoid penalizing, and we must take an example from the virtuous Italian model
Each sector must play its part in reducing its environmental impact. However, the actual numbers highlighted in reports and scientific research must be kept in mind. It is also fundamental to compare the models to push towards the more virtuous examples that can be a model for the EU sector. As evidenced by the Ispra data, Istituto Superiore per la Ricerca e la Protezione Ambientale, the contribution of Italian livestock to the production of greenhouse gases accounts for only 5.2% and is gradually decreasing.
The dare shows that the figure is significantly lower than that indicated for this sector by the FAO (14.5%): this is due to Italian standards in agriculture, certainly more sustainable if compared to those applied in other continents and to the Mediterranean diet, which balances foods by providing a per capita amount of meat lower than the Western average.
One of the most disputed aspects is often that of emissions related to the agricultural sector. As the Academy of Georgofili explains, however, the origin of the carbon of methane emitted by ruminal fermentation (which accounts for 50% of emissions from animal husbandry) is biogenic or is derived from that generated by plants with photosynthesis and ingested by animals with fodder and concentrates. This type of emission is “in the atmosphere with a half-life of about 11.5 years, to be reabsorbed by plants in a biological cycle, compared to the fossil origin of the carbon emitted by fuels, which accumulates in the atmosphere for hundreds of years causing heating”.
What is needed is financial resources, research and innovation to move animal husbandry towards full environmental sustainability
“We need financial resources, research and innovation to move animal husbandry towards full environmental sustainability without penalizing it with excessive bureaucratic burdens”. This is the appeal of CIA-Italian Farmers, commenting on the proposal of the EU Commission to amend the Directive on polluting emissions, which widens the demand for environmental certificates for all cattle, pig and poultry farms with over 150 livestock units. In this way, they are treated as industrial activities. According to CIA, to enable the Italian livestock farming system to meet the European challenge for a zero-pollution economy, it must be equipped with the necessary tools to increase competitiveness and pursue the ambitious Brussels plan. At the same time, less rigid timeframes are required than those provided (the 2027 deadline for implementation of the Directive) to allow operators a complete green transition.