Angry farmers fight for olive trees

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Farmers try to stop authorities from chopping down olive trees and say there must be a better solution to “olive tree leprosy,” which is crippling Italy’s olive oil production. Sharon Reich reports.

Angry farmers fight for olive trees

More than one million olive trees in Italy are believed to be infected with a disease known as “olive tree leprosy.”

Local farmers in the Puglia region are up in arms that their olive groves are being destroyed just weeks before harvesting begins.

SOUNDBITE: Farmer, Stefano Trevisi , saying (Italian):

“This tree can not be chopped down! This tree belongs to everyone! You can’t tear it down. You can send whoever you want but I will not move from this tree!”

Since 2013, Italy’s olive oil production has decreased by 35 percent as a result of the bacterial disease as well as a fruit-fly blight.

But olive grove owners like Giovanni Salia, say that chopping all the the trees down in a grove is wreckless because they’re not all infected.

SOUNDBITE: Olive grove owner, Giovanni Salia, saying (Italian):

“I don’t think chopping the trees down is the answer. The trees should be treated. Chopping down a tree is like chopping down a human being … I don’t understand the real intention behind this…”

But producers and merchants fear that if the disease isn’t stopped from spreading, prices will continue to rise.

And who knows what effect that could have on consumer spending in Italy’s shrinking economy.

Tags : Trees, Olive, fight, farmers, Angry

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