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Italy’s 2023 farm output hit by climate change, statistics bureau says

By Thomson Reuters Jun 18, 2024 | 9:34 AM

(Reuters) – Italian agricultural production shrank last year as wine, fruit and olive oil output all took a hit from extreme weather events linked to climate change, national statistics bureau ISTAT said on Tuesday.

Europe suffered its hottest summer in 2,000 years in 2023 – a finding based in part on an analysis of tree rings – and this month temperatures in parts of the continent have already surpassed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Italian farms recorded a 3.9% yearly drop in production volume in 2023, with woody crops such as vines, fruits and olives down 11.1%, ISTAT said in a statement.

“The year’s trends were affected by adverse weather conditions at different times of the year, with a succession of extreme events affecting many crops of primary importance,” it said.

Wine production fell more than 17% to 2017 levels due to hot summer temperatures extending well into autumn, while olive oil makers in central regions saw output hurt by unseasonably cool and humid conditions during the spring blooming season.

Fruit production was hampered by hail storms and spring frosts, ISTAT added.

As summer approaches, drought in Italy’s southern mainland and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia is already killing crops and livestock, farming lobby Coldiretti said in a statement last week.

Italian farmers joined protests across the European Union in February to oppose low prices for produce, rising costs, cheap imports and EU measures aimed at more sustainable agriculture.

Italy was among six countries that voted on Monday against a flagship EU policy requiring member states to introduce measures restoring nature on a fifth of their land and sea by 2030.

(Reporting by Alessandro Parodi; Editing by Gavin Jones and Jan Harvey)