The Italian olive industry endured a terrible 2014 from bad weather and a nasty infestation of the olive fruit fly. But those are familiar problems. The bacterial outbreak — which is believed to have arrived with plants imported from Costa Rica and has already destroyed citrus trees in Brazil and vineyards in California — poses a new danger for all of European agriculture.
In Brussels, the European Commission has backed off earlier proposals to cull millions of trees in the Salento and instead endorsed the Italian buffer zone as well as other surveillance ones north of the peninsula. The commission is also expected to soon enact a policy that would demand swift culling in the case of any new outbreaks in other regions. And France has moved to protect its vineyards by banning the importation of certain species of plants from Puglia, the region of Italy that includes the Salento.