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Meloni pledges help for farmers amid tractor protests

Meloni pledges help for farmers amid tractor protests

Premier says her govt will target tax relief better

ROME, 09 February 2024, 19:25

ANSA English Desk

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Premier Giorgia Meloni promised her government will take action to make sure farmers' get fair prices for their produce during a meeting with agricultural associations on Friday, as farmer tractor protests continued in many parts of the country. "We want to address the very important issue of production costs," Meloni said during the encounter, according to sources.
    "We want to prevent products being sold below the cost of production and give farmers a fair price".
    She said the government would boost law-enforcement checks on unfair trading practices and increase monitoring of the prices of agricultural products and the average production costs of the main supply chains.
    She also said that a tax-relief measure regarding income-tax Irpef for farmers would be changed, rather than scrapped completely, to ensure it is better targetted.
    "In recent years the Irpef exemption has been an unfair measure that mainly favoured large entrepreneurs and companies with high business volumes," Meloni said during two hours of talks, according to the sources.
    "The government's proposal is to help farmers who need it by limiting the Irpef exemption to agrarian and Sunday income that does not exceed 10,000 euros.
    "In other words, the Irpef exemption must be for the weakest, so it is concrete support to those who produce (food), and not a privilege".
    The question seemed to create some friction within the government, with Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Matteo Salvini saying the tax relief was not enough.
    "I am convinced that we can do even more," League leader Salvini said.
    Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, a leading member of Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI), replied by saying that the Irpef exemptions, which government had intended to suspend completely, will remain for 90% of Italian farmers.
    "As it was, the Irpef exemption created an imbalance between Italians," Lollobrigida said.
    "It is right to continue to exempt those who need it in this time of difficulty.
    "But there were exempted Italians who have incomes that are not just above average, they are also above average for the rich.
    "This is not tax fairness.
    "(Economy) Minister (Giancarlo) Giorgetti says the measure that will emerge from these talks will guarantee enough resources for more than 90% of agricultural enterprises".
    Four tractors driven by farmers representing Agricultural Redemption, one of the several groups involved in the peaceful tractor protests gripping Italy against European and national agricultural policies and general hardship in the sector, drove past the Colosseum on Friday morning as part of a small demonstration in the city.
    The tractors, sounding their horns and escorted by police vehicles, were greeted with applause, thumbs-up signs and kisses as they made their drive-past before heading for Circo Massimo.
    "For the first time tractors have entered the heart of the capital without flags behind them. It is a great result," said Agricultural Redemption leader Salvatore Fais.
    Of the increasingly evident divisions within the tractor protest movement, he said: "Each group has the same problems and each one wages its own battles".
    The group also said that the tractor procession on Rome's GRA motorway ring road is scheduled for Friday evening.
    (see related stories).
   

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