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Farmers Dumping Rotted Produce, Spoiled Milk Due to Government-Mandated Shutdown of “Non-Essential Businesses” in U.S.



By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 22, 2020


 Thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida are being plowed under or left to rot in the fields because farmers who had grown the crops to sell to restaurants or other hospitality-industry buyers like theme parks and schools have been left on the hook for the crops.

   As the economy continues to remain shut down across the country, massive levels of uncertainty abound in all sectors.  Farmers in Florida, and other states, are now begging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue for some farm bailout money. Without some kind of industry-specific bailout, these farmers might go out of business.

   The farmers had longstanding sales relationships, but suddenly, on a whim those customers have disappeared. And many other companies in the US that are still buying produce already have contracts with foreign suppliers.  If these farmers go out of business and stop planting for next harvest, there could be a shortage of food in upcoming years.  Again, a problem not considered by state governors when they decided to collapse the economy over what is essentially a flu virus.

   80 percent of the tomatoes grown in Florida were meant for now-shuttered restaurants and theme parks.  Food banks are already stuffed to the gills with fresh produce and can't take anymore.  Grocery store chains have pre-existing contracts with overseas suppliers, so most of this excess food will end up rotting in the fields.

   But produce isn't the only sector of the agriculture market suffering.  Dairy farmers in Wisconsin are being asked to dump tens of thousands of gallons of surplus milk, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered restaurants and foodservice facilities nationwide, has closed milk processing plants or forced them to curb production. About one-third of the dairy products produced in Wisconsin are sold to foodservice.  The Dairy Farmers of America cooperative has agreed to pay farmers for the milk that is being dumped, but there is no timeline for how long the co-op will be able to provide financial relief since its funds are certainly not unlimited.

   Meat packagers are also in trouble.  With the massive consolidation of the meat processing market into the hands of just a few mega-conglomerates over the past few decades, nearly all of the meat sold commercially in the U.S. is funneled through just a scan few packing houses. 

   On the week of April 5, a Tyson-owned meat processing plant in Iowa ground to a halt as workers there became infected with COVID-19.  This particular plant produces 2% of the U.S. pork supply.  On March 31, JBS USA, a massive beef packer closed its facility in Souderton, Pennsylvania and didn't think it would be back online until after mid-April.

   G. Edward Griffin reports on his website,, “Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie says farmers are only weeks away from euthanizing animals that would have been sold for meat. Fruits and vegetables also are going to rot in the fields. The reason is that the food supply line has been broken by government COVID-19 policies. Farmers are not allowed to process their own live stock and must send them to commercial processors, yet six large processing plants are shut down from coronavirus absenteeism and federal unemployment programs. So, even though the super markets are eager for beef and pork and consumer prices are rising, the supply is severely throttled. If farmers cannot sell their products and, thereby, cannot afford to feed them or milk them, they will begin to euthanize them and bury their carcasses.”

    Closer to home, Maine potato farmers have lost nearly half of their business and could see advance orders for next year’s crop drop by as much as 20 percent due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions on restaurants.  To help mitigate these losses, the Maine Delegation sent a letter to USDA, urging the agency to directly purchase Maine potatoes from farmers. In the letter, the delegation highlights Maine-grown potatoes as a nutrient-dense and versatile food source that can help to combat food insecurity through the USDA’s nutrition program.

   While the shut-down of all “non-essential” businesses in the U.S. may have seemed like a good idea to state governors, at first, their doctors and pseudoscientists advisors failed to contemplate the "ifs" as it related to business closures.  The infamous coronavirus is turning out to be a flop when compared to the over-hyped computer models governors relied on to make their hasty and ill-informed decisions to shut down nearly the entire business infrastructure of the United States.   As food becomes more and more scarce due to the artificial shutdown of the economy, at the end of the day, it has been predicted that more people will suffer from the economic shutdown than will ever have suffered with the virus.