«I don’t know what we will die of one day, but we will not die from starvation during this terrible crisis». With these words, Ivano Vacondio, president of Italy’s food and beverage federation (Federalimentare), summarized the situation of production and distribution in Italy and in the world of made-in-Italy food products the last well-known health emergency.
Even if production have been maintained in countries like Italy, analysts warn there may be further disruption ahead if border controls clog motorways, deterring drivers from delivering products.
Food is a priority and things should be moving freely. Following the journey of pasta from farm to fork illustrates all the processes that will need to be kept running during the coronavirus outbreak. Like many foodstuffs, pasta relies on a highly complex international supply chain, often passing through several countries on the way to consumers’ plates. Let’s think, for example, to the UK. Most of pasta eaten in that country is made from wheat shipped from Canada, which is then processed by companies such as Barilla and De Cecco in Italy.
After being transported by trucks through Europe, UK wholesale distributors, such as Princes, sell it on to supermarkets. If we close our borders to food moving, what could happen?
A strong EU needs a strong agriculture
This is the reason why we should learn from the crisis that people need to cooperate on food all over the world. «Let’s think to us and do not care about the others», does not seem to be the right way to face next economic crysis.
We have been living dark days due to coronavirus and the whole world lockdown.
Thinking about recovery is the key. We cannot make mistakes. So, where should we start? A good idea about Europe should be to start from the farm, so to be sure to “have enough” to arrive to the fork. A huge development and incentive plan for agriculture would be good for EU in order to increase productivity by introducing innovation, which is actually being held back.
Investments must be made by using European financial mechanisms. According to some economist, the new CAP must be reshaped after the unexpected return to the past in society, in the economy and in the Europeans’ lives. We must have the courage to support the primary sector, also for strategic security reasons. The time has come to stop chasing smoky dreams of alternative agriculture as the result of anti-science or short-sighted rules on agricultural practices. We must return to sustainable and advanced agriculture, supported by true scientific progress. This is how the recovery and the social stability will be helped. A strong Europe needs a strong agriculture.
Those who want to relaunch the agricultural system have good reasons for that, but they are wrong if they think that we have to lock ourselves up and consume only food produced inside each Country borders, because there wouldn’t be enough and because Countries like Italy, Germany and France would lose export incomes.
A protectionist position would have a double negative effect of making inside produced food rarer and more expensive.
Let us not forget that if EU played Trump’s game, Europe would provoke retaliations from world’s partners against its food gems that it export with pride and profit.