cod. 1003992

Academic year 2012/13
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Economia ed estimo rurale (AGR/01)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
63 hours
of face-to-face activities
9 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit
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Learning objectives

The course looks at main constraints on the Italian farming and agri-industrial system, the evolution
of demand for food products, EU policies and WTO regulations on international
trade. It then focuses on dimensions and characteristics of the agri-food system with
particular reference to contractual and market regulation mechanisms. The course
ends with an analysis of information asymmetry which can hamper food product
sales and initiatives to counter it.


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Course unit content

In developed economies the agri-food system is made up by interdependent firms which contributes significantly to national income and trade balance. The system includes farms, industrial enterprises and services sectors and is organized in chains and functional sub-sectors. Production is mainly oriented to the food supply for the population, but there are also raw materials for no-food uses (fiber and fuel).
The course is based on the following topics:
1 - The tools of Agri-food Economics
2 - The structure of Farm and Agro-industrial System
3 - Food chain, distribution channel and regulation of Agri-food System
4 - EU agricultural and food policy
5 - Quality, certification and traceability

Full programme

1 The tools of Agri-food Economics
1.1 Consumer’s behaviour in food consumption
1.2 The Supply-Demand Sheet
1.3 Food chain definition and its components
1.3. The “Agri-business complex” and the “Input-Output Model”
2 The structure of Farm and Agro-industrial System
2.1 The Sub-Sectors of the Agri-food System
2.1.1 Agriculture
2.1.2 Food industry
2.1.3 Food distribution
2.1.4 Catering
2.2 Engel’s law and changes in patterns of food consumption
2.3 The ISTAT survey on household consumption
2.4 Italian foreign trade in agri-food products
2.4.1 Long term trends of the Italian agri-food foreign trade
2.4.2 The deficit in the agri-food sector’s share of overall trade
2.4.3 Structure of Italian agri-food foreign trade
3 The marketing of agri-food products
3.1 The marketing mix for agri-food products
3.2 Prices and asimmetry of information
4 Food chain, distribution channel and regulation of Agri-food System
4.1 Economic function of intermediation and distribution channel
4.2 Agri-food markets
4.2.1 Equilibrium in competitive and monopoly markets
4.2.2 Characteristics of agri-food markets
4.2.3 The market of imperfect competition
4.3 Transaction cost economics and contracts
4.3.1 Phases of transaction and cost of goods
4.3.2 Factors affecting transaction costs
4.3.3 Regulating transactions
4.3.4 Contract economics in the agri-food system (contract and vertical integration)
4.4 Cooperatives
5 EU agricultural policy
5.1 Pricing policy under “coupled support”
5.1.1 The European tradition in agri-food sector intervention: protectionism and
“deficiency payments”
5.1.2 Formation of the CAP: aims and working of the Common Market
5.2 CAP Reform and “decoupling”
5.2.1 “Decoupling” the support to agriculture
5.2.2 The 1992 McSharry Reform
5.2.3 The 2003 Fischler Reform
6 The WTO and multi-lateral agreements on agri-food products
6.1 WTO
6.1.1 WTO objectives
6.1.2 The “Most Favoured Nation” clause and the “National treatment” rule
6.1.3 Multilateral and regional agreements
6.2 The GATT agricultural agreement
6.2.1 Role of agriculture in GATT negotiations
6.2.2 The Uruguay Round
6.2.3 The GATT agricultural agreement: terms
6.3 International agreements on non-tariff barriers
6.3.1 Health barriers
6.3.2 Technical barriers
6.4 TRIPS agreement on GI’s
7 Strategies for food quality
7.1 Trademark policies
7.2 Definition and EC regulations on PDO and PGI products
7.3 Collective marks and the policy of voluntary Consortia for the protection of typical
agri-food products
7.4 Certification and traceability in agri-food system


The main readings are the lesson notes from the course and texts selected by the
- Materiale didattico per il corso di Economia dell’Azienda Agraria ed Agroindustriale, Università degli Studi di Parma, Parma, 2011
- R. Fanfani: Il sistema agroalimentare in Italia, Bologna, 2009, Edagricole.
- F. Messori F. Ferretti: Economia del mercato agroalimentare, Bologna, 2010, Edagricole

Teaching methods

The course is based on frontal lessons.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists of open ended written questions.

Other information

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