UPDATED LIST: How to buy straight from Florida’s farmers hurt by coronavirus pandemic

Florida farmers financially crippled by COVID-19 outbreak

In this March 28, 2020, photo, DiMare farm manager Jim Husk holds a ripe tomato, in Homestead, Fla. Thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida are being plowed over or left to rot because farmers can't sell to restaurants, theme parks or schools nationwide that have closed because of the coronavirus. This is a catastrophe, said tomato grower Tony DiMare. We havent even started to calculate it. Its going to be in the millions of dollars. Losses mount every day." (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – While the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the health of thousands of Floridians, it has also left many financially crippled, especially the Sunshine State’s farmers.

Florida leads the U.S. in harvesting tomatoes, green beans, cabbage and peppers this time of year. With much of the state shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the restaurants and other foodservice businesses that Florida’s food growers rely on to stay afloat aren’t open for business, or simply aren’t seeing enough of a demand right now to come close to meeting the supply of perishable products agricultural producers have to offer.

[RELATED: Coronavirus claims an unexpected victim: Florida vegetables]

The loss has created a domino effect through the farming industry, Florida’s second-largest economic driver, according to the Associated Press. It yields $155 billion in revenue and supports about 2 million jobs.

To help Florida’s farmers stay afloat during this difficult time, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have created the “Florida Farm To You” commodities list.

[VIEW LIST: Click here to support Florida’s farmers]

The list, which is updated daily, aims to connect potential buyers with producers of Florida-grown commodities, like fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, poultry and other fresh food items.

Buyers, food banks and other consumers looking for a specific item can click here, find and select the agricultural or seafood commodity they’re looking for in the dropdown menu and get contact information for growers offering that item throughout Florida.

Florida farmers can have their available products listed by filling out this form or emailing FLFarmToYou@FDACS.gov.

Fried has also asked large retailers, including Publix, Walmart and Whole Foods to stock more Florida-grown commodities in their stores.

“We have worked tirelessly to support Florida’s farmers during COVID-19 by connecting them with buyers and consumers, and our Florida Farm To You commodities list is the latest way we’re doing so,” Fried said. “There’s no silver bullet to solving the decreased demand from foodservice businesses, but by connecting our agricultural producers with willing takers, we can help move Florida-grown products from fields to consumers.”

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