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COVID-19 and too much rain: A Florida farmer’s challenges mirror those that other farmers face

It’s been a year since First Coast News started following a local farmer, sharing with you his successes and struggles. When they started this story, First Coast News had no idea the troubles farmers would face because of a pandemic. This is the final installment in this story, showing how the weather is an age-old challenge for farmers and how Covid is something new.

“We’ve all been seeing the effects of all these many nor’easters and summer storms,” said Bryan Jones of Riverdale Farm. Jones’ family grows green beans in the fall and spring. However, with a thousand acres of potatoes, spuds are the main source of income for this family. And this year, the Covid storm hit that crop.

“There was a tremendous loss here at our farm,” Jones said. The potatoes were great looking. It was a beautiful crop this year. “We were sending ours to a facility that was making them into chips,” Jones noted. But that major potato chip company’s facility had to shut down three times to do extensive cleaning because of concerns regarding Covid contamination.

That left potato in the dirt and Jones had nowhere to send them. “So if they’re shut down, we can’t just jump into another facility and take them over there because then we are hurting other growers,” Jones explained. 

Meanwhile, the potatoes sat in the field, with no potato chip facility to take them, in time. Eventually, Jones made that heartbreaking decision to plow under many of his potato fields.

Read the full story on First Coast News here and watch a video.
Photo: Bryan Jones | Growing Produce

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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