Italy plans national origin labelling for rice
The Italian government has released a package of measures designed to protect its hard-pressed rice industry, which would include mandatory country of origin labelling for rice sold in Italy.
Italy's rice sector is one of Europe's biggest but has been suffering from low prices, to which it is especially vulnerable through zero duties on rice imports into the European Union from underdeveloped rice exporting countries.
A discussion table 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 labelling for rice, which would require permission from the EU to go ahead.
Italy also issued an official request to the European Commission to activate the safeguard clause in EU regulation 978/2012 on lower tariffs – this enables certain duty privileges to be suspended if a flood of imports are harming EU producers. 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.
Additionally, 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 EUR2bn (US$2.12bn) into the country's rice sector.