“There is an abysmal distance separating the government’s countless announcements made at their almost daily press conferences and the reality our companies regularly have to deal with the next day, when banks slam the doors in their faces, denying them any form of help”. These are the words of Giovanni Busi, president of the largest denomination of Italian wine, the Chianti Wine Consortium. His very clear, and very harsh words describe how difficult the situation actually is for the many wine growers and wine producers in Italy belonging to the denomination that “is the spokesperson, so to speak, of a situation no longer sustainable in the Tuscan nor the national wine chain, due to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 emergency. Our companies no longer know what to do. For obvious reasons”, said Busi, “we are forced to continue doing business because agriculture cannot stop. To stop would mean abandoning our vineyards, and for us the real danger would be not having the strength to start up again. The consortium has had to make drastic decisions, such as a 20% reduction in production causing serious economic damage for the companies. It was a compulsory choice, in order to keep production in balance with the market. On the other hand, we note with deep concern and dismay that the Government, besides television and direct Facebook announcements, has not yet provided any concrete support which would permit us to survive”.
Busi has launched a strong appeal describing an emergency situation for the sector. Indeed, as we have written recently, it faces a significant crisis of liquidity that must be resolved so activities in vineyards and cellars, explained Busi, can go forward and be alive after the pandemic. The crisis is mainly due to the paralysis of the restaurant industry, in Italy and in many countries around the world. Even though purchases for consumption of domestic wine both from large retailers and online has grown a lot, except for perhaps a very small part, it cannot compensate the loss.
“We are also willing to borrow in the interest of the country to safeguard our business”, added Busi, “but in order to do so the State cannot ignore that they must give us a guarantee, providing, among other measures, for the temporary cancellation of the Basel agreement. It is useless to allude ourselves, and here we turn to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, by keeping us glued in front of the TV expecting help that instead punctually falls away against the sliding doors of the banks, where there have even been some cases of reduced credit lines. Agriculture and farmers are on the verge of collapse. We are continuing to pay our employees who are working regularly, and our suppliers, to continue business in the fields. However, payment for the wine we had already sold before the emergency has not yet been collected, as we are waiting to see when and if the firms that owe us will reopen. Wine companies continuing to sell today are selling to large-scale distribution, but they are a very small number, while the much larger number of small and medium-sized enterprises in the wine supply chain are feeling the despair. The government needs to act quickly, employing serious and concrete measures, and once these are approved, then it can announce them”.
Copyright © 2000/2020