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Running an Italian Agritourism as a Professional Farmer: the Requirements

Tuscany

vineyards tuscany open farmhouse

Is your dream to open a farmhouse in Italy? Have you always wanted to organize events in a villa in Tuscany or manage a wedding on the sea in beautiful Puglia? In Italy, to manage a farmhouse (both as an individual and as a company), you must meet the requirements of IAP (professional agricultural entrepreneur).

The professional agricultural entrepreneur (IAP) is someone who possesses professional knowledge and skills and devotes at least fifty percent of their total working time to agricultural activities, deriving at least fifty percent of their overall income from such activities. For entrepreneurs operating in disadvantaged areas, these requirements are reduced to twenty-five percent.

The regulatory definition 

The professional agricultural entrepreneur (IAP) is defined as someone who, possessing professional knowledge and skills as outlined in Article 5 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999, dedicates at least fifty percent of their total working time to agricultural activities (see table below) as specified in Article 2135 of the Italian Civil Code, either directly or as a partner in a company, and derives at least fifty percent of their total income from these activities. 

Pensions of all kinds, equivalent allowances, indemnities, and sums received for holding public office or serving in associations and other entities operating in the agricultural sector are excluded from the calculation of total income from work. 

In the case of partnerships and cooperatives, including labor cooperatives, the activity carried out by the partners of the company, provided they meet the requirements of professional knowledge and skills, working time, and income as mentioned in the first clause, is sufficient to qualify them as professional agricultural entrepreneurs and to meet the requirements for working partners. 

In the case of corporations, the activity carried out by the administrators in the company, provided they meet the aforementioned requirements of professional knowledge and skills, working time, and income, is sufficient to qualify them as professional agricultural entrepreneurs. For entrepreneurs operating in disadvantaged areas as specified in Article 17 of the aforementioned Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999, the requirements outlined in this paragraph are reduced to twenty-five percent.

TABLES: WORK HOURS PER CULTIVATION

HERBACEOUS CROPS

CropWork Hours per Hectare per Year
Grain Cereals50
Grain Corn64
Waxy Corn72
Sorghum56
Energy Crops (sunflower, rapeseed, etc.)24
Alfalfa50
Grasslands48
Lean Pasture12
Permanent Meadows and Pastures30
Potato320
Artichoke640
Industrial Tomato400
Table Tomato640
Beet80
Tobacco1000
Watermelon/Melons320*
Zucchini/Peppers640*
Strawberries800*
Asparagus560*
Fennel320*
Other Open-field Vegetables560*
Vegetables under Protected Cultivation1200*
Traditional Vegetable Garden2000
Grain Legumes100
Aromatic and Medicinal Plants1600
Mushrooms2400

TREE CROPS

CropWork Hours per Hectare per Year
Fruit Trees528
Table Olive500
Olive for Oil400
Wine Grapes500
Table Grapes600
Kiwi560
Hazelnut320
Fruit Nuts200
Minor Fruits2400

ORNAMENTAL HORTICULTURE

CropWork Hours per Hectare per Year
Cut Flowers2800
Container Plant Production5600
Nursery Productions1840

Business Requirements for farming in Italy

The qualification of IAP can be recognized not only to an individual but also to a company with the following characteristics dictated by art. 2 of Legislative Decree 99/2004, namely:

  • a partnership (S.S. – S.a.S. – S.n.c.) (if at least one partner is an IAP as an individual)
  • a cooperative society (operational) (if at least one managing partner is an IAP as an individual)
  • a corporation (S.p.a. – S.r.l. – S.a.a) (if at least one administrator is an IAP as an individual): e.g. President or individual member of the board of directors.

Formal objective requirements for all companies and corresponding to paragraph 1 of art. 2 of Legislative Decree 99/2004:

  • to have as its corporate purpose the exclusive exercise of agricultural activities within the definitional framework of art. 2135 of the civil code (Agricultural Entrepreneur);
  • to include the formal wording of “agricultural company” in the name/business name;
  • an administrator, understood as a qualifying subject, can confer the IAP qualification to only one agricultural company.

IAP Access Requirements

Income Requirement

Having income solely from land, agricultural company participation, or pensions does not cause any issues for recognizing the qualification in question. However, if there are non-agricultural income sources (e.g. freelance fees, salaries from public or private employment, income from commercial or industrial businesses, etc.), these incomes need to be compared to a conventional agricultural company income based on standard output “S.O.” as per Regulation (EU) 1198/2014 adopted by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia for determining the economic size of farms under the regional Rural Development Program.

This agricultural income is estimated during the verification process based on the farmland area and its crop distribution under actual management, as deduced and certified from the electronic farm record compiled and updated at an Agricultural Assistance Center. 

The calculated agricultural conventional income – including any income from complementary agricultural activities, agro-environmental and forestry subsidies, and other statutory income supplements – will be added to any other non-agricultural incomes to determine the applicant’s total work income.

In this case, this requirement is considered met if the non-agricultural incomes do not exceed 50% (75% for farms in disadvantaged areas) of the total calculated work income.

Time Requirement

The time requirement is satisfied with recognized agricultural work experience of at least 119 days (or 950 hours equivalent) reduced to 59 days (470 hours) for farms in disadvantaged areas. For this, reference is made to the tables calculating average annual work hours per hectare provided in Regional Executive Order 552/2015.

Professional Capacity Requirement

The owner of the agricultural company or the qualifying subject must possess at least one of the following:

  1. A degree or postgraduate specialization in agricultural sciences, forestry, animal production, food technologies, veterinary medicine, or an equivalent field
  2. A diploma issued by an agricultural technical institute or other agricultural-focused institution
  3. A certificate of attendance and successful completion of agricultural professional training courses of at least 150 hours organized or recognized by the Region
  4. Continuous practice for at least three years in direct agricultural activities such as land cultivation, forestry, aquaculture, livestock farming, and related activities, either independently as a sole proprietor or in partnership with family members, or as an employee of an agricultural enterprise. These periods must be objectively verifiable through a specific agricultural social security record with INPS or, as an exception for those operating predominantly in mountain areas, at least through an agricultural VAT number opened for the corresponding periods
  5. A professional farmer’s license obtained under the previous regional legislation (Article 5 of Regional Law 10/1972) or enrollment in the relevant professional register of agricultural entrepreneurs at that time

The key aspects are demonstrated through degrees/diplomas related to agriculture, completion of recognized training courses, verified work experience in agricultural activities for at least 3 years, or a previously obtained professional farmer’s license/registration.

farmhouse in tuscany italy IAP regulatory

Expanding Opportunities in Italian Agritourism: Embracing the Charm of Tuscany

The allure of producing your own wine, oil, and other agricultural products for yourself and visitors in places like Tuscany is undeniable. Whether you’re considering purchasing an operating farmhouse for sale in Italy or transforming an existing property into a welcoming agrotourism venue, understanding the requirements to operate as a professional agricultural entrepreneur (IAP) is crucial.

However, acquiring a farmhouse to start an italian farm is not as simple as just purchasing the property. Italy’s farming industry has regulations around who qualifies as a professional agricultural entrepreneur (IAP) able to legally operate an agriturismo. Meeting the income, time, and professional capacity requirements outlined above is crucial for running a legitimate business having access to EU and Tuscany Region calls and grant funding.

Tuscany is not just a place – it’s a lifestyle that many dream of experiencing. For those looking to invest, there are numerous interesting semi-abandoned properties with a lot of arable lands in Italy, especially in Tuscany, where the agricultural richness offers a perfect backdrop for a lucrative agritourism business. Imagine owning an Italian olive farm, where guests can participate in olive picking and oil tasting, or a vineyard where visitors can indulge in wine tours and sampling.

As an IAP, you can offer a variety of activities that immerse visitors in the rural lifestyle, from traditional cooking classes to guided nature walks. Each activity not only adds value to the guest’s experience but also enhances the economic stability of the agritourism. As an IAP, you can have full access to public funds issued throughout the European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD). By integrating farming with hospitality, you not only enhance the sustainability of your farm but also create a unique tourist destination that offers real insight into the life of an Italian farmer.


Trust ILF for your next Italian agritourismo business

When pursuing your dream of operating an authentic agritourismo farmstay in Puglia, Lombardy, Lazio or other regions, enlisting the help of ILF (Italian Law Firm) can be invaluable. As a respected law practice based in Florence, ILF has in-depth knowledge of the stringent requirements to achieve professional agricultural entrepreneur (IAP) status mandated by Italy’s farming industry regulations.

We can guide you through legally purchasing – ILF’s experienced attorneys will ensure you structure your farming activities, agritourism offerings, corporate entity and all assets properly from the outset to meet the IAP’s mandated income, time commitment, and professional capacity criteria. With ILF’s expertise behind you, confidently welcome guests to your picturesque villa in Umbria or working farm accommodations knowing your operation fully complies with Italy’s agriculture laws. Investing in the legal services of ILF provides the comprehensive support to make your authentic agritourismo dream a legitimate, enduring reality.