Coronavirus outbreak: ‘A disastrous situation’: mountains of food wasted as coronavirus scrambles supply chain

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Susie Cagle
Thu 9 Apr 2020

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Jim Husk, farm manager, walks through a tomato field on DiMare farm in Homestead, Florida. Photograph: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Billions of dollars worth of food is going to waste as growers and producers from California to Florida are facing a massive surplus of highly perishable items.

As US food banks handle record demand and grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked, farmers are dumping fresh milk and plowing vegetables back into the dirt as the shutdown of the food service industry has scrambled the supply chain. Roughly half the food grown in the US was previously destined for restaurants, schools, stadiums, theme parks and cruise ships.

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The impact could be up to $1.32bn from March to May in farm losses alone, according to a National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition report.

Agriculture officials insist that the supply itself is not in question, but matching that supply with demand and getting it to where it’s needed most is a new and urgent problem.

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