The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the world in various aspects and has brought unforeseen challenges that take a significant toll on people all across the world.
The numerous restrictive measures issued by authorities to help flatten the curve have their own consequences as well and have caused disruptions in the food supply chain.
Florida farms face a rather unusual problem- they have too much produce and no place to sell it.
About 47,000 Florida farms provide the world with food and communities with jobs, and they were now severely hit by the halted business of cruise lines, amusement parks, and restaurants.
Last month, countless tons of produce were left to rot in their fields due to nationwide quarantines.
State agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, says:
“Agriculture is struggling. Everybody has seen those pictures in Florida, and across the country, of gallons of milk poured out, fruit and vegetables being plowed under because there are no workers and no places to deliver food.”
To mitigate the negative effects of it, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) decided to address two problems at once.
The FDACS has set up a web page with options for growers, consumers, and transportation services. Growers and transporters can submit their services, and customers can filter by types of produce and by county.
There are similar lists by the Florida Farm Bureau, one for farm stands and one for farms, with names, addresses, and social media handles.
The website also says that their list will be regularly updated with new information and adds that “consumers should also check Facebook pages for food availability at local farms and hours of retail operation. Harvesting and packing processes vary according to location. Please remember that fruits and vegetables are perishable products that require care to preserve their taste and quality.
Please ensure FDA food safety and CDC social distancing guidelines are being followed when visiting.”
Therefore, you can now purchase farm-fresh items like milk, seafood, and Florida-grown veggies and fruits straight from the farmers.
When bars and restaurants were shut down, the sales of Honeyside Farms dried up just like in the case of numerous others.
The owner, Tiffany Bailey, said that “it was an immediate impact; there wasn’t much warning.”
Yet, she decided to start online sales and delivery to help the business survive:
“We’ve been able to quickly get sales online and funnel about half of our produce through these online sales, and they’ve been growing ever since.”
However, the farm will still get only about 20% of their normal revenue.
Long and Scott Farms has 400 acres, and mostly produce pickled cucumbers. Hank Scott, who runs the farm, says that they have “3 to 4 million pounds of pickled cucumbers that we would normally be trucking to the East Coast and Midwest”, so they now look forward to the $19 billion President Trump promised to farmers.
“We are going to see how the program works. There are a lot of family businesses like us that need to be in business to survive.”
Let’s just hope that the efforts and measures of the Florida Farm Bureau and FDACS can be of help to these farmers too.