Coronavirus crisis taking toll on Florida farmers


TAMPA BAY, Fla (WFLA) – Farming is becoming a forgotten business due to the coronavirus.

Normally, around this time of year, farmers in Florida would be shipping out produce to different vendors. But right now, that’s not the case.

Pacific Tomato Growers, which has farms in Wimauma and Palmetto, has been selling 25-pound boxes of tomatoes for $5 so their products don’t go bad.

The deal was so sweet, the Wimauma and Palmetto location have sold out of their boxes of tomatoes for the time being.

A Sarasota County farmer purchased more than a dozen boxes of tomatoes on Monday morning. She tells 8 On Your Side she knows the struggle these tomato farmers are facing first hand.

“It’s affecting us majorly. We are right in the middle of our U-Pick and Commercial season. We employee almost 100 people and they don’t get paid if we aren’t in business,” said Leeann Albritton from Albritton Fruit Farms.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is advising farmers, ranchers, and any other agriculture-related business to apply for the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. The program will help keep their employees on the payroll during this time.


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