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Farms face unknowns as buyers cancel orders

6PM PKG - FARM BUSINESS IMPACT.00_00_31_09.Still001

ROYAL OAKS, Calif. (KION) There is nothing like the taste of a fresh picked strawberry in the springtime. They are grown organically at JSM Organics in Royal Oaks and there are a lot of them.

"There are anywhere between 3800 or 6000 cases per acre. You're looking at a place that has 20 acres. You do the math. It's a lot of pounds of strawberries," said JSM Organics Owner, Javier Zamora.

Zamora and his staff have been preparing for harvest all year, but this Spring, because of the Coronavirus, their top customers are no longer in business. Local restaurants and schools have shut their doors.

"This is going to be a very difficult next two weeks for us. I don't know how we're going to take that," said Zamora.

Zamora is still hoping for somewhat of a miracle, but the Monterey County Farm Bureau reported some farms have already faced the unthinkable.

"There is some product that has been left in fields, or has been plowed under, simply because it does cost money to harvest that product. If there is no market for that product, a grower is not going to invest money in harvesting it, simply to throw it away," said Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Norm Groot.

JSM Organics applied for an SBA loan and are still waiting for approval. The money would allow the farm to stay afloat for now.

As for the strawberries, that is still up in the air. "My hope is that the USDA can start purchasing from small growers and donate to local food banks. Otherwise I don't know. It's up in the air," said Zamora.

Groot said many Monterey County farms have decided to donate their food to local food banks. Zamora said that is definitely an option for RSM Organics.

Coronavirus / Monterey County / News
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Megan Meier

Megan Meier is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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