September 24, 2021
Two days before the referendum on the establishment of an organic district in the Province of Trento, the media coverage to remind Trentino’s citizens to exercise their right-duty remains scandalously low. It is sad that an independent Province governed through a democratic regime wants to encourage abstentionism in a referendum, which is the highest representation of people’s participation in the political debate. In fact, this situation is rather understandable, almost logical, since very few political parties have publicly and clearly declared their position on the referendum.
Only the Greens, Futura and the Five Stars Movement have unequivocally invited citizens to come to the polls on Sunday and vote in favor of the district. Lega, Fratelli D’Italia, Onda Civica, PATT and the Democratic Party have not made any official declaration on their stand, leaving freedom of choice to citizens . A deafening silence. Is there fear of losing votes and strategic friendships? The absenteeism of politics and the social effects of the pandemic on an initiative born more than two years ago will strongly affect public participation and consequently the achievement of the quorum set at 40 %.
A clear advice to vote “no” was given by the farming lobby. The Italian Confederation of Farmers (“Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori – CIA“) of Trentino as well as Italy’s Farming Confederation (“Confederazione Generale dell’Agricoltura Italiana – Confagricoltura”) have deliberately taken sides against the organic district referendum, pointing out the disappointing approach with which the debate on organic farming was started. For the two organizations, it is an initiative that favors clashes between citizens and farmers and forgetting or failing to involve producers in the initial stages was a serious mistake . The National Confederation of Direct Producers (“Coldiretti”) also aligns itself with the two other farming institutions, stressing out that only certain Provincial areas are suitable for organic. “You can’t force things”, criticized President Gianluca Barbacovi .
A week before the referendum, also the main worker unions of Trentino – CGIL, CISL and UIL – have finally taken part in the public debate. The unions unanimously took position in favor of the referendum and the referendum question, affirming that it represents the first step to establish a “quality food chain centered on people’s health, the preservation Trentino’s natural environment and the work welfare of those involved in farming” .
Also ACLI, a historical catholic association of Trentino committed to “promoting the common good, peace and the integral development of people following the values of the Gospel, democracy and labour”, has openly expressed its support for the public poll and invited citizens to vote in favor of the organic district establishment .
There are also many environmental associations that officially support the referendum committee: associations for the protection of the environment (e.g., Legambiente) and animals (e.g., LIPU Trentino), and the promotion of sustainable farming (e.g., L’Ortazzo). There are fishermen and beekeepers’ associations (e.g., Federazione Pescatori Trentini), Solidarity Purchasing Groups and organizations advertising for and marketing local, eco- or fairtrade products (e.g., Comitato di Salvaguardia l’Olivaia). Finally, there are NGOs promoting a more sustainable society and economy (e.g., Alta Val di Non Futuro Sostenibile), safeguarding public health (e.g., Medici per l’ambiente ISDE Trentino), and preserving the local landscape or the natural and cultural heritage (e.g., Italia Nostra Sezione trentina) .
There are also other NGOs, environmentalist or not, that have not yet been added to the official page of the promoting committee’s website but that support the initiative on their own digital platforms.
Considering now media resonance, the absence of the political parties weighs much more than the support of the various NGOs mentioned above and will affect public participation heavily. Nevertheless, the movement and public discussion about sustainable, organic and agroecological farming will not be damaged in the aftermath of the vote. On the contrary, it will be strengthened and will begin to network in an organized and strategic manner. In the same way that the Fridays For Future movement was born and grew big to fight the climate crisis on a global level, movements and social networks fighting for more nature-friendly farming methods may grow and solidify in the Province of Trento.
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 Oliver, L. (2021, September 17). Referendum: Le Acli per il Si. https://www.aclitrentine.it/news/2021/09/referendum-le-acli-per-il-si/
 Distretto Biologico Trentino. (2021, April 7). Unisciti a noi. DISTRETTO BIOLOGICO TRENTINO. https://bio.trentino.it/365-2/unisciti-a-noi/
This article is part of the project “Environmental Blogging Boost 4 Students”, aimed at increasing the spread of agroecology and sustainable water management in Trentino. The project is financed by the BIM Adige Water Catchments Consortium (grant approved by provision n. 100 of June 06, 2021).