‘Olive tree leprosy’ devastating Italy’s farmers, olive oil production

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Italian farmers are facing ruin as a plague of “olive tree leprosy” devastates orchards across southern Europe.

The Xylella bacteria has hit particularly hard in the country’s Puglia region along its southeastern coast. That along with hail and drought has led to 25 percent drop off in the country’s olive oil production, according to the Guardian.

Italy controls roughly 15 percent of the total world market in olive oil, most of which ends up in the United States, France, Germany and Japan. Prices for Italian olive oil have been up sharply as a result of the supply disruption.

The country’s farm lobby, Confagricoltura, says the situation has been more stable among olive groves in central Italy.