75th EAAP Annual Meeting

1/5 September 2024 - Florence, Italy

Agriculture and Animal Farming in Italy

Italy has a total extension of 302.068 Km2 which is the eighth largest among European countries. Only 23.2% of the territory is classified as plain; the rest is classified as mountain (35.2%) or hill (41.6%). According to the 7th Agriculture Census (2020), the total utilised agricultural area is 12.535.448 hectares, whereas forests and semi-natural areas occupy 12.975.448 hectares. Due to its geographical position and longitudinal North-South expansion, Italy has different climatic conditions, varying from Alpine (Alps and northern Apennines) to the Po Valley, Peninsular (central Italy) and Mediterranean (southern Italy) climate. In 2020, 1.13.023 farms were registered in Italy, of which 21.7% were livestock farms (ISTAT). Family farming is the prevailing model, with an important role in the rural economy, for the supply of high quality products, but also for environmental and biodiversity preservation. In recent decades, many farms have experienced a process of diversification, offering services and secondary activities, such as product processing, renewable energy, handicrafts, and agritourism. Industrial farms are mainly located in the North, specialising in dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and poultry. Farms specialising in dairy buffalo breeding are located in Campania and Lazio. The breeding of small ruminants (dairy sheep and goats) is typical of Southern Italy and the islands (Sardinia and Sicily). The share of the livestock sector in the total national agricultural production accounts for 28%. The Italian agri-food system represents 15% of the national economy’s turnover, generating a total value of 549 billion euro in 2022 (CREA). The Italian agriculture has a well-known reputation for excellent, high quality production, with many PDO or PGI products (316 food products, 526 wines), which are part of the ‘Made in Italy’ label. Also typical of Italy are traditional agri-food products (pasta, vegetables, cheese, ham and cured meats), which are the result of diversified production systems, local genotypes and Italy’s cultural heritage, with peculiar processing and ageing methods that have been consolidated over time.