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Just Published: Florida Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Adaptation and Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic had substantial impact on economies across the country, and Florida’s agriculturalists were no exception.

In Florida fruit and vegetable growers’ adaptation and response to COVID-19, assistant professor of community food systems Catherine Campbell (@GatorLiving) and associate director for stakeholder relations for the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center Gene McAvoy (@SWFLVegMan) explores Florida producers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida producers faced unparalleled disruptions to the food supply, with stay-at-home orders halting the state’s hospitality and amusement industries, which account for more than 70% of large producers’ sales in the state.

Some South Florida commercial producers responded to challenges presented by the pandemic by changing their sales strategy, selling more than 120,000 pounds of squash, tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers in $10 boxes of produce via drive-thru pickup at their local packing house.

Other producers were able to harvest and transport produce to food banks, donating tens of thousands of pounds of tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans and cabbage to food banks, churches, healthcare centers and others in need. Immokalee growers alone donated more than 3 million pounds of fresh vegetables to a Southwest Florida food bank.

While there were many negative impacts of the pandemic, one positive outcome has been the uptick in demand for Florida-grown produce, leading grocery stores to commit to buying more produce from Florida growers.

To learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s agricultural producers, read the open-access manuscript in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development on their website.

Be sure to follow Dr. Campbell on twitter for her latest research updates and to learn more about Florida community food systems.

 

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