Problems facing the fruit and veggie sectors

Many ag sects face unique obstacles as the coronavirus continues to complicate food supply chains. Among them, fresh fruit and vegetable producers scramble to keep production on track.

Sean Gilbert with Gilbert Orchards states, “It’s dramatically changed buying habits of our customers, which is disruptive but we’ve been able to adapt to it in a lot of cases.”

As producers scramble to redirect supplies to grocery stores sales, different packaging, and volume threatens highly perishable crops. Farmers continue to work to meet demand but some restrictions could create labor shortages. Savannah Turner, a New Mexico onion farmer, states, “Going forward I don’t quite know how we are going to keep producing at the level we are expected to.”

Despite supply chain struggles, farmers say that there is enough food to meet demand, and growers welcome government aid but worry that it will not be enough. According to Turner, “There are still a lot of other costs that are still going to have to be paid at the end of the year, that that money can’t even touch, because it takes a lot of money to be a farmer.”

Specialty crop growers are eligible for the USDA’s coronavirus aid package, if crops suffered a 5 percent price decline or produce spoiled because of lost markets. For more information contact your local Farm Service Agency.