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American agriculture in crisis as farmers destroying their crops


Millions of tons of food wasted in America every year


United States of America (USA) is facing severe public health crisis. The confirmed cases of coronavirus in US have crossed half million mark and reached to 561,700. The coronavirus infection has so far taken more than 22,129 deaths. 
The outbreak of coronavirus has forced many states in America to impose lockdown and take measures to restrict the movement of people. The state governments have forced to close down businesses and education institutions.
As the result- the American economy is facing severe impacts of this lockdown and public health crisis. The agriculture sector in US is facing severe crisis. The closure of restaurants-hotels and education institutions have deprived farmers from their customers. In many states- the farmers sell their vegetables-milk- eggs and other produce to schools- hotels and restaurants.
The farmers have been forced to destroy their produce as there are few customers to buy the agriculture and dairy products. The tomatoes –onions-cabbage-green beans and other vegetables are rotting in the fields. Thousands of tonnes of vegetables and produce are being wasted. They are plowing the fields with tractors without picking the vegetables. They are re- plowing beans-tomatoes-cabbage- onions and other vegetables back into the ground.  

As America's agricultural industry is confronted by the impacts of the virus, there have been some striking examples of food waste. Farmers are dumping milk and plowing crops back into the soil across the U.S. after the closings of restaurants, hotels and schools in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Daily Mail online “Wisconsin and Ohio farmers have dumped thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer found himself digging ditches to bury 1 million pounds of onions”.
According to Dairy Farmers of America- the largest dairy farm cooperative in the country- farmers are dumping 3.7 million gallons of milk daily and a single chicken processor can smash 750,000 eggs per week. The International Dairy Foods Association also estimates that farmers are currently dumping about 5 per cent of the milk supply in the U.S. 
Before the outbreak of coronavirus- the United States was used to waste 40 percent of its food annually, amounting to about 63 million tons.  The collective response to the coronavirus pandemic, from panic buying at grocery stores to restaurant closures, is bound to inflate that percentage, food loss experts say, at a time when food insecurity is on the rise.

The sad reality is that on one hand millions of tons of food is being wasted and destroyed just in America but on the other hand millions of people go hungry every day in the world. Millions need food to survive every day as the poverty and unemployment forced them to sleep with empty stomachs. The profit driven market system encourage the producers and consumers to waste food than to hand over to the poor people who desperately needs it.     
According to National Geographic research -the biggest source of food waste in America is households where produce wilts, milk spoils, and leftovers lurk at the back of the fridge until they are tossed. Now, anxious consumers who have been hoarding food may discover there’s no way they can eat everything they’ve bought.
Then there are farms, where, even in the best of times, growers leave as much as half their crops in the field, largely because of cosmetic imperfections. Now, produce growers fear that even more crops go unharvested. 
With restaurants, schools, caterers, corporate cafeterias, and some farmers markets shutting down, farmers also have fewer outlets for their highly perishable produce, exacerbating a supply bulge.
Many are also are being forced to bury fresh vegetables, or in some cases, donate them to organizations like Meals on Wheels. Farmers also say they are facing challenges repackaging products as some switch from supplying the food service industry to grocers and other retail food sellers they are not normally prepared to work with.
There is no place to store it. Food banks have limited refrigeration/freezer space . . . that's why they prefer canned/boxed goods. With restaurants closed or providing limited service the entire supply chain is in disarray. Many Wholesalers are reporting that they are donating record amounts to food banks. Schools aren't buying milk and there is no mechanism in place to deliver it to homes of kids. If things don't change we will see the culling of milk cows. 
  
But food banks, which handle a much larger amount of food and serve many more people, need a more robust source of supply. Before the coronavirus outbreak, supermarkets and food companies channeled excess to food banks, moving nourishment to people most in need while also keeping surpluses from rotting in landfills. With grocery stores now working on overdrive, breaking sales records as consumers stock up on supplies, those donations are dropping off. Meanwhile, food insecurity is on the rise as millions of people lose their jobs.
To unclog this bottleneck, lawmakers included $450 million in the recent stimulus package for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy and help distribute food to food banks. Donations from restaurants—forced to close or shift to take-out only by governors in more than half the states—have also risen.
But getting their hands on pasta, beans, and tomato sauce isn't the only challenge confronting organizations that feed the food insecure. Social service agencies that have historically relied on volunteers to prepare and serve meals to the hungry are feeling a crunch right now. Demand for their services is up, but volunteers, who skew older and are at higher risk for COVID-19, aren’t showing up to work.
And because congregating in crowds, whether in soup kitchens, senior centers, or food pantries, is now forbidden in many states, agencies are scrambling to find ways to deliver meals to clients sheltering in place, turning to laid-off workers-taxi drivers and other people. The California Association of Food Banks has asked the governor for 20,000 National Guard soldiers to help assemble food boxes, load trucks, and deliver aid.
                                               Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor


1 comment:

  1. It is outcome of capital system which cannot survive on exploration

    ReplyDelete

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