From January 2001 to May 2004 the Minister chaired the "Nomisma" Economics' Studies Institute. He also chaired the Qualivita Foundation and currently runs the International Agricultural Policy Magazine edited by the Informatore Agrario in Verona. He is professor at the Agriculture Academy of Bologna, the Georgofili Agricultural Economics Academy of Florence, the Agriculture Academy of Pesaro and the National Academy of Treja. From 1996 to 1998 he was economic advisor of Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Economic Advisor of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Resources, Michele Pinto. Since 1 June to 31 December 2000 he was appointed as special Advisor of the EU Commission's President. From 21 October 1998 to 25 April 2000 he served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Policies in both Governments chaired by Massimo D'Alema. On November 2000, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi awarded him the "Cavaliere di Gran Croce al merito della Repubblica Italiana"merit honour. He is scientific coordinator of the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) in Paris, and scientific Director of the Genio Rurale Magazine: a magazine on goods evaluation and territory science of Edagricole. He is also member of the Italian Agricultural Economists' Society (SIDEA) and of the European Agricultural Economics Association (EAEA).
Candidate at the Political Elections held from 9 to 10 April 2006 in Apulia in the Olive Tree list, he was elected in the XV Legislature. In May 2006 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies in the Government chaired by Romano Prodi.