By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus is hitting the South Florida agriculture industry particularly hard.

In the heart of the growing season, local farmers are disking and mulching to prevent the spread of disease.

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Farmers are being forced to destroy their crops as the supply chain has been affected.

Third-generation Homestead farmer Kern Carpenter says, “I’m just a small farm compared to some and I probably have in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 thousand boxes that I’ll leave in the field.”

Down the road, a bit grower, Sam Accursio says he losing $20,000 a day.

“So, we’ve just been giving them away. What we can, but we just simply have too much there. There’s too much to give away,” says Accursio.

Though the pictures of fruit and vegetables being dumped do not seem to make sense in this time of need, it is a reality faced up and down by the food supply chain.

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South Florida Vegetable Industry expert Gene McAvoy says, “It costs money to pick, pack, transport for the grower who is already losing millions of dollars. Can’t afford to pick it and give it away.”

Speaking to CBS4’s Jim DeFede, the state agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried said:

“Agriculture is struggling. Everybody has seen those pictures in Florida, and across the country, of gallons of milk poured out, fruit and vegetables being plowed under because there are no workers and no places to deliver food.”

No market for Florida winter fruits and vegetables, as restaurants, hotels are shut down. Cruise ships not sailing and in the supermarkets, customers going for non-perishables.

McAvoy says, “The food banks in Florida are overwhelmed. They do not have the capacity in terms of manpower, terms of trucking and storage to move this amount of produce.”

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