An unexpected victim of the coronavirus: why do farmers discard food during an epidemic

Heaps of harvested zucchini and yellow pumpkins ripened and then rotted under the hot Florida sun, and juicy tomatoes are left to wither on the farmers ‘ fields. This writes NBC Montana.

Неожиданная жертва коронавируса: почему фермеры выбрасывают продукты во время эпидемии

Photo: Shutterstock

Thousands of acres of vegetables grown in Florida, left to rot in the fields because farmers can’t sell because all the restaurants and other establishments are closed due to the coronavirus.

Other States face similar problems — representatives of agriculture say leafy greens in California have been particularly affected, and dairy farmers in Vermont and Wisconsin said that they had to get rid of the excess milk intended for restaurants.

With most of the harvest problem is acute in Florida. For example, a few dozen people sold 25-pound (11-kilogram) boxes with tomatoes straight from the packing plant just $5 for a box.

“This is a disaster, — said the producer of tomatoes Tony Dimar, who owns farms in South Florida and near Tampa Bay. We haven’t even begun to count the loss. It is measured in millions of dollars. Losses grow every day.”

Florida leads in U.S. harvest of tomatoes, green beans, cabbage and pepper. Although some products are designed for grocery stores, many farmers serve only the so-called market of public catering — restaurants, schools and theme parks. Farmers suffered greatly as States and cities have imposed an order on insulation, and all the offices were closed.

The agricultural industry is the second largest economic factor in Florida. He brings an income of $155 billion and provides about 2 million jobs.

Many manufacturers donated products to food banks, but there are limitations on what you can take a charitable organization, and the problem of storing perishable fruits and vegetables one of them. Dimar said that some food banks in Central Florida full. After the closure of many institutions of the state, the manufacturers have sacrificed a huge number of products.

Farmers are trying to sell the product in grocery stores, but it’s not easy. A large network has already signed contracts with farmers who grow products for retailers — many outside the United States.

80% of tomatoes grown in Florida, were intended for restaurants and theme parks that have closed due to the coronavirus.

20 Federal legislators from Florida and the Commissioner for agriculture of the state of Nicky fried has sent letters to the head of the Department of agriculture Sonny Perdue urged to include farmers from Florida in Federal program procurement and distribution of food to the surplus agricultural products could help to feed the hungry and food insecure. According to the nationwide food Bank network Feeding America, about 37 million Americans had no means to feed themselves before the pandemic.

Federal law provides assistance to farmers in the amount of $9.5 billion.

Some farmers tried to sell boxes of products directly to customers. This approach is used in many places, as the pandemic strikes at restaurants and catering companies around the world.

Wholesalers in London that usually sell fruits and vegetables in restaurants have home delivery. But the big farmers know that such a sale of the crop will do little for their profits.

“The end of winter vegetable season in Yuma, Arizona, has been devastating for farmers, who rely on customers, said Cory Lund, a representative of Western Growers, a group representing farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and new Mexico. There are many farmers who have a crop that will escape and disappear.”

He said that the jump in demand for products in the beginning of the outbreak is currently diminished.

“People are staying home and do not visit grocery stores more often, said Lunde. Thus, losses continue to grow.”

In South Florida Paul Allen, President of R.C. Hatton farms made a video where you can see green beans that had to be sold to restaurants.

“You can see a vast field of beans” — he said, raising the camera of his mobile phone to show the tractor, which processes all useful plants and beans in the soil.

Allen, which handles about 12,000 acres (4900 hectares) in Florida and Georgia, prays that the time of harvest in North Florida and in Georgia the situation has improved.

“We just hope to be able to live another day,” said Allen.

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