In a segment titled, “How the COVID-19 pandemic is sending American agriculture into chaos,” WG President & CEO, Dave Puglia, and WG Member, Jack Vessey of Vessey & Company, appeared on PBS Newshour to discuss the economic impact of the crisis on the fresh produce industry.
Highlighting the devastating on-farm consequences of the foodservice collapse, Vessey provided PBS Newshour camera crews with an exclusive look at his romaine fields as they were being plowed back into the ground.
“It is very difficult for me,” Vessey said in his interview. “Not just on the economic side, but the emotional side, as well.”
Puglia provided insight into the supply chain challenges related to rerouting supply originally destined for the foodservice sector.
“If you think about a grocery store, you’re going to see something on the shelf that’s packaged for you, as a consumer. You go to a restaurant, they’re buying in bulk. So we can’t, unfortunately, flip that infrastructure over all that quickly.”
In response to a question about donating excess produce to food banks and other charitable organizations, Puglia noted: “That farmer has to decide whether to spend the money to harvest it, which is the most expensive part of farming in the produce industry. So, if you already know you’re taking on a 100 percent loss, do you want to make it 150 percent by harvesting a product that doesn’t have a profitable home?”
Click here to watch the full PBS Newshour segment.