What you need to know about how the novel coronavirus is affecting farming and food.
The global COVID-19 pandemic is already disrupting the way farmers make a living from Anantapur, India to the east coast of Canada. Market collapse is affecting prices and many farmers are among those who simply can’t afford to take time off work when they get sick. In North America, social distancing measures are hindering the ability of small farmers to sell their produce, and travel restrictions could prevent them from finding farmworkers for the coming growing season. Here’s a roundup of coronavirus news about how agriculture is being affected around the world:
Farmers’ Market Drive-Thrus
As many farmers’ markets have closed their doors across America, a local market in Minnesota is taking a different approach to get consumers their fresh veggies. The Rochester Farmers Market is set to offer a drive-thru service on Saturday from 10 am to noon. Minnesota’s Post Bulletin reports that customers will need to order online in advance, and they will be able to pay online or in person. The market is also offering a delivery service for a fee.
Boxed Lunches for Rural Children
As schools continue to close down in areas affected by outbreaks, the USDA has been figuring out how it can supply food to students who depend on school lunches. The USDA announced Tuesday that it is working to deliver one million meals to rural students affected by school closures. The department is partnering with Baylor University, international trade firm McLane Global and PepsiCo to distribute meals starting next week. The lunch boxes will include five days worth of food
Last week, Civil Eats reported that the USDA had granted waivers to 14 states to use the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to serve free meals to impacted low-income children. Civil Eats notes, however, that this won’t ensure that all low-income students who need meals will have access, as the SFSP applies only to areas where at least 50 percent of children are entitled to free lunches.
Canadian Lobster Fishing to Shut Down
Lobster fishermen in eastern Canada have been feeling the effects of COVID-19 for weeks now. Nova Scotia lobster has boomed in recent years, thanks largely to the popularity of Canadian lobster in China. While exports to China recently resumed, the spread of the virus to Europe and North America has prompted lobster processors to call for the shutdown of all lobster fishing in Nova Scotia for a number of weeks.
COVID-19 Hits Indian Banana Farmers
As banana-importing countries such as Iran have locked themselves down, Indian banana farmers have started to suffer. Average banana prices in southern India dropped to $108 from $195 a tonne a month ago, according to the Hindu newspaper. The Hindu reports this could be crippling for farmers if prices drop any further.