While the US bails out the auto industry, Italy is spending $64 million to save the makers of other wheels: parmesan cheese. Producers of the popular pasta topping have struggled for years to turn a profit, despite strong national and regional appetites. “It’s a tragic situation,” one cheesemaker told the Wall Street Journal. “I’ll have to close up shop unless things improve.”
The Italian government is using EU funds to buy 100,000 wheels each of Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, which it will give to charity. Though consumers support the effort, the news is grating on mozzarella makers, and economists say the bailout sets a bad example. “If you spend money on parmigiano, then on cabbage, then on Alitalia, you’re using state resources to help those that are inefficient,” says one.