Florida Farmers Selling Directly to Consumers to Avoid Produce Dumps

We are living in challenging times and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll in every aspect of our lives. Due to the quarantine and many restrictive measures issued by governments the everyday life got seriously affected and as well as the business. However, this was the only way how to flatten the curve which came with consequences and one of them is the food supply chain.

Florida farms which are around 47,000 of them are dealing with a rather unusual problem having plenty of produce that they cannot sell. These farms have been providing food in the whole country and thanks to their existence people from various communities had jobs. The produce was shipped to the restaurants, cruise lines, and amusement parks, but since the quarantine measures these businesses are put on stop.

Hence, last month, tons of produce were not harvested and left to rot in the fields as a result of the lockdowns.

Nikki Fried, a state agriculture commissioner, stated the following:

 “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.” 

FDACS – the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services decided to act on this current situation and addressed the ongoing issues at once. On their website they have suggested options for growers, consumers, and transportation services. Namely, the growers and transporters can offer their services, and the customers can filter by types of produce and by county.

The Florida Farm Bureau also initiated similar lists, one for farm stands and one for farms, with names, addresses, and social media handles. On their web page one can find the list which would be updated on regular basis with new information stating 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.”

Thanks to this incentive, you can buy fresh farm items such as milk, seafood, and Florida-grown veggies and fruits directly from the farmers.

As a result of the lockdown many bars and restaurants were shut down, and the sales of Honeyside Farms almost immediately dried up. The owner of the farms, Tiffany Bailey, said that “it was an immediate impact; there wasn’t much warning.” This happened to almost anyone that is dealing with farming. However, Bailey found a solution for her business not to collapse by starting online sales.

She said:

 “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.”

Although this is a good incentive it still cannot cover their regular revenue, it covers only around 20% of the revenue.

Hank Scott is in charge of the Long and Scott Farms with 400 acres that mostly are planted with pickled cucumbers. Regularly they would have “3 to 4 million pounds of pickled cucumbers that we would normally be trucking to the East Coast and Midwest”, and at the moment they are just striving to survive. Scott is eagerly waiting for the $19 billion fund that President Trump promised to farmers.

Hank Scott hopes that this program will work:

“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.” 

Many farmers now rely on the measures of the Florida Farm Bureau and FDACS hoping that they would be of great assistance in these difficult times.