The first case of the destructive bacterium Xylella fastidiosa in Spain

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“We should try not to over-dramatize, but the situation is worrying,” Eduardo López, a spokesman for the COAG farmers union told the digital newspaper El Confidencial.

Mr López and other representatives of the farming community want Spain’s authorities to announce a compensation scheme now, before the disease spreads further and the painful preventive uprooting of trees begins in earnest.

“It’s very important that the government compensates affected farmers because, otherwise, many will be tempted to keep it quiet to avoid losing their crop,” argued Ramón Mampel from the Valencia ULR union. “That’s what happened in Italy; the producers did not want to lose money and they kept their mouths shut, and now they find themselves absolutely ruined and with two million olive trees to be ripped out.”

The Valencian regional government has followed European Union guidelines when faced by the destructive bacterium, clearing all plants in a 100-metre radius around a dozen affected almond trees in Guadalest, Alicante. But there is no agreement on compensation, with the standard maximum offered by Valencia of €7,429 for each hectare lost falling well short of the maximum demanded by growers of €27,000.

Andalucia, with 60 per cent of Spain’s olive groves, is the most vulnerable region to a massive Xylella attack. “It has appeared on an almond farm in Alicante, but imagine what it could do here in Andalucia with our olive trees and the continuous carpet of forest across thousands of hectares in Jaén, Córdoba and Granada,” warned Mr Valero.

“This could be a huge disaster of we don’t act immediately when we detect the first sign.”

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