For some of the 300 olive growers who toil here in the rolling hills of the Lazio region, making olive oil is a year-round labor of love.
The olives are hand-harvested early in the fall, when they are still green, and are whisked to a cooperative-run mill so they can be cold-pressed within 12 hours.
Nothing is added in the process, following precise standards that produce the extra-virgin olive oil that Italy vaunts as one of its most prized products, and most successful global exports.
“We want people to buy the oil because it is a Colli Etruschi oil,” which is famed for its quality, said Nicola Fazzi, the director of the Colli Etruschi cooperative, founded in 1965.
That is why Mr. Fazzi, like producers elsewhere in Italy, is troubled by a draft legislative decree under review in Parliament — with a decision expected on Tuesday — that would tinker with the penalties for passing off counterfeit olive oil and its origin.
If the decree passes, critics say, commercial fraud and counterfeiting would no longer be considered a criminal offense. Instead, it would be punished by a relatively light fine, effectively incentivizing the wrongdoing, the producers say.
Antonella Guastella bottled oil at the Colli Etruschi cooperative, known for its quality.Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times
“Much is said about promoting ‘made in Italy,’ but then they try to decriminalize adulterated oil,” Mr. Fazzi lamented, joining a chorus of critics, including trade associations and farm lobbies, who fear for the reputation of Italian extra-virgin olive oil if the decree passes.Evoo producers in Italy is troubled by a draft legislative decree in Parliament,