Italian Farmers Face Crisis As Ukraine War Sees Animal Feed, Fuel, Fertiliser Prices Surge

Italian farmer Loris Martini takes care his cows in a farm of Villafalletto, near Cuneo, northwestern Italy, on January 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
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Italian dairy farmers are the latest in the European agri-sector to report an impending crisis as the costs of energy, animal feed and other necessities are slashing margins and profits, and may force some farmers out of business entirely.

The renewed invasion of Ukraine by Russia has led to a surge in prices for many key products in Italy. Prominent among them is energy; Italy relies on around half of its imported gas from Russia and the effect of high prices are having a pronounced influence on Italian businesses.

A growing number of Italian dairy farmers are now facing a crisis over the surge in prices of energy, such as electricity and diesel, and rises in various kinds of animal feed such as corn for their cattle.

The Italian Institute of Services for the Agricultural Food Market (ISMEA) has reported that some farmers and dairy producers may be forced to close as a result of the increasing prices, Il Giornale reports.

According to the report, producing milk now costs between 50 and 55 euro cents per litre, and at those prices producers are making just 4 cents per litre in profit. At the start of this century farmers were making 12 cents per litre. Any further increase in prices to produce milk would likely mean producing it at a loss in future.

Some Italian companies, such as Granarolo, a food company specializing in dairy, meat, pasta and vegetables, have offered more money to dairy farmers in an effort to keep them producing, in amounts well above previous agreements from last year.

Italy is one of the largest dairy producers in Europe, with only Germany, France and the Netherlands producing more milk per year in 2020, according to European Union statistics.

Massimo Giansanti, president of the Italian agricultural organization Confagricoltura, has previously called on the European Union to do more to protect food security.

“The problem is that we continue to govern the agricultural policies of 27 different countries, instead of thinking of it as a single state. It is time to evaluate together how to measure stocks and deal with crises, a food security model is missing,” he said in an interview late last month.

Other EU countries have also expressed concern regarding food production, including farmers in Sweden, who say under certain circumstances they may have to cut their harvest in half due to shortages and rising costs of fertilizers and manures over the war in Ukraine.

Giansanti is not the only one sounding the alarm over food security. Last month, Svein Tore Holsether, head of the agri company Yara International, also warned that the world could be heading for a global food crisis.

“For me, it’s not whether we are moving into a global food crisis – it’s how large the crisis will be,” he said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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