About two weeks ago in Florida, a million pounds of green beans ripe for the picking were plowed back into the earth as fertilizer. Social shutdowns from the COVID-19 scare had already started rippling through the U.S. economy, threatening the nation’s food supply.
Crops from R.C. Hatton’s Pahokee fields supplied restaurants, cruise ships, school cafeterias, airlines and theme parks in South Florida. They will never reach the marketplace. Paul Allen, the farm company’s president, said:
“And I’ve got another one million I can’t harvest that’s going down in the next three days.”
Allen added that the national response to COVID-19 is “devastating” for Florida agriculture due to “zero demand – and it’s being left in the fields.”
Agricultural products from around the country that are ready to harvest face the same fate since state governors have issued stay-at-home orders with social distancing rules (6 feet between people) that make farmwork impossible to sustain.
There is so much surplus farm food that won’t be sold for profit to pay salaries, mortgages, and operating expenses that food banks, the only winners in this scenario, have been saturated to full capacity with donations.
Tony DiMare is the vice president and third generation in his family to own DiMare tomato company which has growing operations in several states. DiMare called the current situation “dire” and “catastrophic,” with “no relief in sight.” Two hundred workers have been laid off, impacting their families.
DiMare farms grow produce for both retail outlets (such as grocery stores) and direct distribution to the food-service industry. After restaurants were deemed non-essential and shuttered with no advance notice, agricultural suppliers woke up the next morning to find a sizeable portion of their customer base had dried up.
VP DiMare pointed out that fresh produce products are perishable and can’t wait for government decisions:
“The clock is ticking. And every day that goes by is another box of tomatoes left in the field to rot.”
DiMare’s decision to deploy a 35-foot plow blade to destroy a perfectly good crop was born of economic necessity. Because laborers earn $15-$17 per hour picking fruit but only minimum wage for fieldwork, it’s cheaper to waste the crop than harvest it with no buyers.
Another Floridian, Kern Carpenter is facing economic hardship imposed by the mandatory long-term state shutdown with no firm end date. The grower said his small farm has between 60,000 to 70,000 boxes of produce that will be left to rot in the fields:
“There’s not enough customers for all the tomatoes, beans, squash – everything just raised in Homestead. We’re all struggling.”
Carpenter commented that he thought he had seen it all but he reckoned no one alive had ever seen anything like the current government lockdown that is crippling Americans who, a few short weeks ago, were hard-working and focused on making better lives for themselves and their families.
Dairy farmers in Pennsylvania are also reeling from the sudden and unexpected loss of customers representing a significant portion of their trade, dumping gallons of milk down the drain.
On April 7, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) appealed to Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to act immediately to protect dairy farms from going bankrupt. A report from the two agencies estimated that the current demand for dairy products exceeds demand by at least 10 percent.
That shortfall could widen as people are forced to stay home with no work, church or social recreation. The dairy industry leaders outlined what’s going on right now in America:
- Major supply chain upheaval as processors, marketers, and merchants adapt to plunging restaurant sales and surging grocery store chains
- Lacking orders for finished goods, several processing plants are curtailing or ceasing operations, resulting in canceled milk orders
- As a result, producers and cooperatives across the US are beginning to “dump” significant quantities of milk
The dairy industry is asking federal leadership to provide emergency relief under a new law called the CARES Act, termed “a substantial relief package to bolster the programs and support mechanisms needed to weather the COVID-19 crisis.”
Jim Mulhern, NMPF President, and CEO, underscored how the abrupt closure of non-essential businesses across the land has spelled disaster for millions of Americans on both ends of the supply chain:
“As most of the country shelters in place and large swaths of the foodservice sector come to a standstill, dairy sales outside retail channels have plummeted. Market prices have fallen rapidly, creating a crushing economic outlook for producers of nutritious, and necessary, milk and dairy products.”
Destroying the nation’s food supply is complete insanity and smells to many conspiracy synthesists like a totalitarian plot cooked up by the likes of multi-billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates to cripple the U.S. and create poverty unseen since the Great Depression last century.
Are We the People going to take this anti-American socialist undermining lying down? The time is NOW to let your elected officials know how you feel about enforced worker idleness and agricultural waste on a mass scale.