Italy’s rice sector is one of Europe’s biggest but has been suffering from low prices, especially vulnerable through zero duties on rice imports into the European Union from underdeveloped rice exporting countries. But now the Italian government has released a list of measures designed to protect its hard-pressed rice industry, which would include mandatory country of origin labeling for rice sold in Italy. A meeting between all Italian rice industry representatives was called on 13 April by the agriculture minister Maurizio Martina, who proposed an action plan. This included a national decree mandating obligatory origin labeling for rice, which would require permission from the EU to go ahead.
The European Commission was also requested by Italy to activate the safeguard clause in EU regulation 978/2012 on lower tariffs which enables certain duty privileges to be suspended if a flood of imports are harming EU producers. Moreover, the Italian authorities are establishing support mechanisms for agricultural suppliers, such as an insurance policy to protect farmers’ incomes and an investment by the Italian government of Euro 2bn (US$2.12bn) into the country’s rice sector. Additionally, Rome is also sending a letter to the Commission asking for it to reform its generalised scheme of preferences tariff system to better protect EU producers and manufacturers.