Negotiations concerning the first pillar of the common agricultural policy came to an end at last yesterday afternoon after several weeks. One of the main questions to be resolved focused on coupled aid, i.e. the resources directly linked to certain crops.
The negotiations held on Tuesday during the Regions Conference voted to allocate 11% of the ceiling rather than the upper limit of 15%. The remaining 4% will be retained on base payments. Total funds for coupled aid will amount to 426 million euros. Out of this figure, 220 million euros will go to animal farming. The approach proposed by the northern regions (Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Piedmont and Friuli Venezia Giulia, plus the self-governing provinces of Trento and Bolzano) was taken in indicating the livestock sector as the main beneficiary of the coupled system.
The solutions adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Regions Conference divided representatives of institutions of the agricultural world alike. Coldiretti welcomed the outcome of the negotiations, while Agrinsieme and Copagri were extremely critical.
The Press Office of Eurocarne, the triennial international exhibition dedicated to the meat sector scheduled 10-13 May 2015, asked several players in the livestock sector for their opinions.
Fabiano Barbisan, President of Unicarve and the Italia Zootecnica Consortium, said: 'The first comment on the provisional document published is that the ceiling for the beef, amounting to 66,390,000 euros is absolutely insufficient to cover the cut of almost 50% in direct payments to animal farmers. If the beef sector in Italy disappears, the Regions and the Ministry will have to take full responsibility for the choices made.'
The only positive note, says Barbisan, 'is the inclusion of additional bonuses for national or regional quality system and PGI produce. Unicarve is launching an appeal asking all animal farmers to think seriously about the use of quality systems in order to use a brand ensuring recognition of meat produced in Italy otherwise livestock farming will decline very quickly.'
As an initial estimate, Barbisan feels that under the current allocation of CAP resources, livestock farmers could receive a quality bonus for each head reared of 25 euros, against the presnet figure of 43-45 euros. 'What has been done, by opening up to other agriculture and with fewer resources than in the previous CAP agreement,' says the Unicarve Number One, 'is a re-boiled and rather pointless stew.'
Ivano Lugli, Vice President of Unipeg, the most important Italian cooperative slaughterhouse, with over 250,000 head slaughtered last year, wishes to review all documents more thoroughly before making further comment. 'I think that the blanket wasn't long enough to cover everyone's needs,' said Lugli, 'but it is undeniable that have set capping at such low levels, with 50% cuts in funds over 150,000 euros, is a penalising decision for animal farming.'
'The future of beef cattle does not depend on small companies,' Lugli went on, 'and if there was any hope of competing with France and large breeders in Northern Europe, then yet another opportunity has been missed, thereby adding new difficulties to the sector. I think that attention to cow-calf line and re-stocking is positive, since the scenario in coming years will inevitably involve these aspects, but it is not through a closed circuit that Italian animal farming can be promoted. Nonetheless, I can only make more precise comments after seeing the definitive CAP documents.'
Loris Colomberotto, President of the group of the same name with turnover of 280 million euros and slaughtering 101,000 white meat calves, is more optimistic: 'Our goal for 2015 is to produce 120,000 head and slaughter 150,000.'
'If, as it seems, a line of support was approved for white meat calves - a segment which sees Italy in the forefront at EU level - then I can only be pleased,' Colomberotto added, 'since we are talking about 20 euros per head which while not a particularly high figure - is still better than nothing, bearing in mind that there are about 650 thousand white meat calves in Italy.'
Source: Press Service Eurocarne-Veronafiere