Verona -- The Minister for Agricultural Policies, Luca Zaia, accompanied by the Under-secretary for Health, Francesca Martini. The keyword, after a difficult 2009 for Italian agriculture, is 'optimism'. And facts and figures of Fieragricola confirm that sector experts expect a turnaround. Zaia unveiled the New Holland world premiere and (also) spoke about GMO: 'I oppose GMO and we will take legal action against the sentence of the Council of State that opened the way for transgenic seeds.' The debate is open and Confagricoltura, having an opposite opinion, served genetically modified maize at table. The President of Veronafiere, Ettore Riello: 'Fieragricola is enjoying strong growth and is a place open to dialogue.'
A 'travelling' inauguration this morning for the 109th edition of Fieragricola, scheduled at VeronaFiere until Sunday 7 February. The increasingly international exhibition focuses on the agriculture of tomorrow.
The ribbon inaugurating the event was cut by the Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Luca Zaia, accompanied by the Under-secretary for Health (with a mandate for veterinary affairs and animal health), Francesca Martini.
The Minister of Agricultural and government representatives were welcomed, for VeronaFiere, by President Ettore Riello and Director General Giovanni Mantovani, as well as the Mayor of Verona Flavio Tosi, the President of the Province Giovanni Miozzi and the Vice-President and Councillor for Agriculture of the Veneto Region Franco Manzato.
Following an undoubtedly difficult 2009 for income in agriculture, hopes of a recovery in the primary sector are in the forefront.
The basis and desire to invert recent trends are certainly at hand. As the facts and figures of Fieragricola clearly demonstrate: 1,321 exhibitors (+4.5% over 2008), of which 15% international, 250 delegations from 38 countries, more than 20 thousand square metres of dynamic areas – literally crowded with agricultural entrepreneurs, sub-contractors and the mrely curious.
Agriculture and animal farming are broadly covered, with an international focus on sub-contracting, events in the cattle ring (in collaboration with Aia and the Italialleva platform), hobby farming and precision agriculture.
The primary sector in its entirety, then, as also mentioned by VeronaFiere number one, Ettore Riello: 'Fieragricola, now celebrating edition number 109, targets all operators in the primary field. After some years, all the major brands in agricultural engineering are in attendance - a strong signal of the potential of this exhibition, a show event of considerable importance, that is growing not the least thanks to VeronaFiere's collaboration with the Ministry for Agricultural Policies, exhibitors and trade organisations.'
Minister Zaia mentioned all the topics on the current agenda. Starting with the situation for prices. The keyword is 'optimism'. 'I expect a recovery in consumption and prices for agricultural products', he said during his tour around the halls.
Zaia's presence was impressive in all segments, almost as if to re-confirm – if there were ever the need – Mipaaf's major focus on agriculture and all allied Made in Italy agro-food business. 'We have sought to bring the agriculture of Italian farmers to McDonald's,' he said, 'with typical Italian produce, that are the pride of our quality output and must also be acknowledged and enjoyed by our young people.'
GMO is a topic of major current interest. Zaia repeated his stance against it: 'We will oppose the sentence of the Council of State and reject transgenic fields in Italy. Not the least because where GMO crops are grown, farmers do not earn more, since people with higher incomes buy organic and non-gmo produce, and everything depends on the multinationals because these seeds do not generate other seeds.'
The opposite position was outlined at 13.00 on the Confagricoltura stand by national president Federico Vecchioni, who served himself a dish of 'polenta' made with genetically modified maize 'resistant to aphlatoxins and inasmuch irreproachable from a food safety profile'.
Fieragricola 2010 thus confirmed its status as a place for debate and exchanges of ideas, perhaps in constrast but absolutely open-ended.
During the travelling inauguration, Minister Zaia unveiled the New Holland world premiere: a track-laying tractor entirely designed and built by the Italian group, with a Fiat Power Train bio-diesel compatible engine.