The system of "ammassi granari" (collective grain storage) became mandatory in 1936, in the context of the policy of autarky imposed in Italy by Fascism. From that time onwards, farmers were obliged to deliver their wheat to agricultural consortia responsible for the marketing of produce. Private individuals were not allowed to harvest and sell wheat on their own. The measure, aimed at regulating the cereal sector, is linked to the regulations enacted during the First World War when a centralized mechanism of control on wheat prices and distribution channels was implemented. Over the following years, international competition and the Great Depression of 1929 gave new impetus to the demands for producers new warehouses for the storage of the grain, which would enable manufacturers to exercise effective control on sales. At the beginning grain bulk storage was voluntary, after 1936 it became mandatory. In this way, the cereal sector remained subject to the regime’s economic policy. The construction of a modern national network of silos must be included among the main consequences of the creation of collective storage. The system of the "ammassi" continued to be used during the war and even after, when they became known as "granai del popolo" (granaries of the people). Immediately after World War 2, the system of compulsory grain storage created strong political tensions and was a major cause of a rampant black market. Nevertheless, considering the food emergency situation Italy was facing, the system of "ammassi" appeared to be the only one able to ensure that markets were adequately supplied. Therefore collective grain storage returned to be a voluntary choice only after 1950. The purpose of this article is to analyze the set of elements that determined the national elites’ progressive orientation towards the creation of a mechanism which in addition to reducing free competition in the wheat market strengthened the position of large companies. Fascism institutionalized protectionist tendencies deeply rooted in broad sectors of the Italian agrarian capitalism. This economic orientation, in fact, lasted for years and did not undergo significant changes even after 1945 when Fascism had to give way to the Republic.
Keywords: Italy, economy, fascism, wheat, storage wheat, prices