It doesn’t get talked about much, but there is an Agricultural Land Bank in Italy. It is described as both an opportunity for private enterprise and for the recovery of abandoned land. In practice, there is a bias in favour of increasing access to farmland and woodland for young farmers. The Agricultural Land Bank consists of a list of parcels of land, both public and private, made available to rent or by concession.
What is the purpose of the Agricultural Land Bank? To restore land management in order to reduce the risks associated with abandonment of the land.
What is the aim?
To encourage employment, especially for young people; to restore public and private land through productive use; to encourage farming and forestry connecting them with the protection of the environment and the land; to preserve biodiversity, protect the landscape, prevent hydrogeological instability, protect mountain areas and their residents from natural disasters, increase fire prevention levels and protect against environmental degradation, halt the loss of local production, and so on.
The “National Bank of Agricultural Land” was set up in Italy in accordance with the Law of 28 July 2016, n.154, Art.16 and is run by ISMEA (Istituto di Servizi per il Mercato Agricolo Alimentare).
It is based on the identification and mapping of uncultivated abandoned areas. It can be added to both through land derived from the activities managed by the Institute itself, and from land belonging to Autonomous Regions and Provinces, as well as other public bodies interested in divesting themselves of land belonging to them. On the Institute’s website it is possible to consult the national map of uncultivated areas and the land that has been made available, and potentially make a declaration of interest in acquiring the land.
The management of the areas identified is, however, left up to the regions or municipalities.
The case of Tuscany is a particularly interesting one because it is supported by the Tuscan Regional Agency for Agricultural Funding (ARTEA). The “Agricultural Land Bank” can be found on their portal where you can see the details of areas of land that are being made available. Selection for the concession/rental of a piece of land or a business included in the bank is open to all. The main aim remains that of encouraging access for young people, and various types of financial and legal support are available to that end. In addition, to prevent the occurrence of failed generational exchange or excessive fragmentation, it is only possible to take on abandoned land that has been notified to the municipalities.
These good intentions, however, need to be accompanied by support and cooperation which public bodies struggle to provide. Generational exchange needs to be considered from various points of view and not only with regard to the acquisition of land to be cultivated. This is the aim of an initiative called Và a Zapp created in Puglia https://vazapp.it/. Its purpose is to connect “young people with different educational experiences, dreams and professions and create ecosystems where they can meet to exchange enthusiasms and ideas about the future“.
The combination of legal provision and the initiatives and experiences of young farmers allows us to look with greater optimism at the future for the younger generations.