Farmers Protest Eradication Plan in Spain

The fifth outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa in six months has led the Spanish government to take drastic measures as it tries to prevent the spread of the plant pathogen.

Protesters in Alicante will formally petition the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change and Regional Planning to halt the destruction of healthy olive and almond trees in the region.

The Platform for those Affected by Xylella fastidiosa in Alicante (AXFA) presented their appeal at a general assembly meeting in Castell de Guadalest.

The appeal was approved and now the group, which is composed of more than 100 local farmers, will submit it in court.

According to Adolfo Ribes, the AXFA spokesman, the appeal is necessary to temporarily stop the destruction of healthy trees as well as to begin legal procedures for the implementation of a containment plan.

“The Valencian administration has not dared to defend us, neither before the rest of the Autonomous Communities of our country, nor before our Ministry nor before Brussels,” he said.

“ASAJA Alicante and AXFA have a firm conviction that destroying healthy, rain-fed trees is an ecological and landscaping aberration that, if it occurs, will mark the beginning of the end of our forests, of our people, of life in these areas”.

This is the fifth outbreak of the plant pathogen in the region since June. Due to the frequency of the outbreaks, the European Union (EU) has told the Spanish government that it will provide funds for the eradication plan stipulated by the European Commission.

“Strict eradication measures apply, consisting of a clear cut of all host plants of the specific subspecies of Xylella fastidiosa, irrespective of their health status, in a radius of 100 meters around the infected plants,” an EU spokesperson said.

“Although these measures impact on the local agro-economy, they are needed in the interest of the Union as a whole in order to preserve EU agriculture, as well as public and private gardens.”

The EU’s rigorous eradication plan was made and approved with numerous scientific consultations. The plan would involve destroying countless more trees than those that are infected, which has led to widespread protests in Alicante. More