The previous exemption from Irpef tax was seen as unjust as it mainly benefitted large entrepreneurs and firms with high business turnover. The government, led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, proposed to aid farmers by limiting the Irpef exemption to agricultural incomes that do not exceed ten thousand euros. This aims to provide tangible support to those who produce, rather than being a privilege for the elite. The Prime Minister discussed this proposal with agricultural organizations at a meeting in Palazzo Chigi.
Meloni assured her audience that the government will strengthen its defense of Italian products. To counter imports from third countries that do not comply with health standards, traceability, and origin rules, a special control room has been set up. This body is comprised of various authorities, including the Carabinieri, Guardia di Finanza, Port Authorities, Customs, AGEA, and ICQRF. An extensive control plan for 2024 has been put in place under the New Control Plan, which will increase the range of supply chains checked and the number of agents at important sites like goods arrival ports.
The government also aims to continue promoting 100% Italian supply chains. Towards this end, the budget law has allocated €650 million to assist struggling families with food purchases, food parcels, and the ‘Dedicated to you’ card. This support is contingent on the products being 100% Italian, providing direct aid to the national agri-food supply chain. Additionally, the government plans to address credit support issues. Due to rising bank interest rates, agricultural businesses face increased difficulties in obtaining credit. To ease this, the government plans to bolster the ISMEA Guarantee Fund.
This fund will enable agricultural businesses to not only access bank credit but also achieve a reduction in interest rates due to the State guarantee. For 2024, €80 million has been set aside for agricultural credit operations. In Europe, the government has consistently defended farmers and objected to the wrong policies imposed by the European Commission. It supports environmental protection and ecological transition but opposes any ideological transition that can harm production and jeopardize food sovereignty.
Meloni emphasized that the government has changed pace in Europe. It has influenced many areas where common sense is now prevailing. This is evident in issues of emission standards, packaging, pesticides, forced rotation, and compulsory set aside. The decision by the European Commission to withdraw proposed legislation on pesticides is considered a victory for the Italian government. The government was able to persuade the Commission that eliminating pesticides would not reduce pollution but would only advantage other economies over the European one.
Meloni further discussed the issue of synthetic food. Despite facing criticism, the government has been vindicated in its stance. Italy led a majority of 17 nations in asserting that synthetic meat or lab-produced meat is a threat from an ethical, social, environmental, and health perspective. The government believes a European ban on cell-based lab-produced food is necessary to protect the sector. The government will continue to advocate for this and for a change in the Community Agricultural Policy. This would involve simplifying aid provision, opposing financial cuts, and stopping aid for non-production, while providing greater support for young people.
Lastly, the Prime Minister addressed the issue of production costs: The goal is to prevent the sale of products below the cost of production and to ensure a fair price for farmers. To enforce the decree against unfair practices, the government will strengthen the controls of the Law Enforcement Authority (ICQRF) and boost the ISMEA structures to process and publish the prices of agricultural products and the average production costs of major supply chains on a monthly basis.