No financial boost on G8 farm meeting agenda: Italy

CISON DI VALMARINO, Italy - The world’s top farm ministers are not expected to come up with a financial package to boost agriculture but will focus on general measures to ensure food security, Italy’s farm minister said.



By (Reuters)

Published: Sat 18 Apr 2009, 8:06 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:09 PM

Luca Zaia said any agreement from the meeting starting on Saturday was likely to include measures to rein in speculative trade in agricultural commodities, but gave no specific details.

“The topics of today’s discussion do not foresee economic support to agriculture,” Zaia told a news conference ahead of the meeting of farm ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised countries and major developing nations.

“If you ask me whether we will come up with a package for agriculture at the end? No, it is not our competence,” Zaia said.

On Friday Zaia had spoken of a concrete action plan to boost the world’s agriculture in the face of increasing global hunger.

The Group of 20 world leaders earlier this month agreed a $1.1 trillion deal to boost the world economy.

Critics believe speculative trade helped fuel surging food prices which led to riots in poorer countries last year and helped raise number of hungry people in the world to nearly one billion.

Farmers at an international conference on Friday said they expected the ministers to propose limits on futures trade in agricultural commodities as a measure to stabilise prices.

Turning to his favourite subject, Zaia said the first session of the G8 ministers meeting on Saturday will be focused on protection of typical regional foods -- like Italy’s Parmigiano Reggiano cheese -- on the international markets.

He said fake “Italian-sounding” products damage Italy’s food exports which are worth about 24 billion euros a year.

The economic crisis has fuelled protectionist sentiment with countries seeking trade barriers to defend local markets.

The current market conditions have put at risk survival of many Italian farmers, Zaia said.

“If the alternative is to close hundreds or thousands of (agricultural) companies, I will fight for keeping import duties to save farms,” he told Il Sole 24 Ore in an interview published on Saturday.

The first-ever meeting of agriculture ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised countries to which ministers from Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Australia and Egypt are also invited runs from Saturday to Monday.


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