‘They rot in the field.’ Florida farmers face destroying surplus crops because of coronavirus

‘They rot in the field.’ Florida farmers face destroying surplus crops because of coronavirus

Hank Scott is pictured at Long & Scott Farms in Zellwood on Friday, April 10, 2020.(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel) ZELLWOOD — Fresh cucumbers are piled high in trucks at Long & Scott Farms, but a big chunk of this year’s harvest could be in jeopardy because of coronavirus. Nearly a third of the farm’s 400 acres of pickle-variety cucumbers go to places like restaurants, said president Hank Scott, and the virus has destroyed that demand across the state and the rest of the nation. “They rot in the field,” Scott said of what will happen to his crop if there isn’t a buyer. “We’ll send a few loads to the local food bank. … We do a lot of donations.” Florida farmers such as Scott are facing challenges getting their products to customers as measures to combat the virus also harm one of the state’s biggest economic engines. Agriculture, natural resources and food industries in the state generated more than $165 billion in revenues in 2016, according to a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences report. “After donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local food banks, there are reports of millions more that will go bad,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wrote in a March 31 letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “From one Florida grower who estimates 10 million pounds of tomato will be left on their vines to another making the hard decision to plow under one million pounds of green beans and four million pounds of cabbage.” “They rot in the field,” Long & Scott Farms president Hank Scott said of what will happen to his cucumbers if there isn’t a buyer.(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel) South of Clermont, 40 acres of blueberries at Southern Hill Farms were ready […]

Original Post www.orlandosentinel.com

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