Three weeks ago, after seeing reports of dairy farmers dumping millions of gallons of milk and farmers throwing away millions of pounds of produce because their usual customers (e.g. restaurants, schools) couldn’t buy them, I wrote a piece suggesting a solution:
Every state has a national guard. Governors should mobilize them to take on the responsibility of packaging, picking up, and delivering the milk and produce that would otherwise go to waste. Would that be expensive? Sure, but the cost shouldn’t matter when we’re talking about getting food to hungry people. And it would give governors and other politicians a chance to portray themselves as heroes in an election year.
Now, the NY Times reports:
The destruction of fresh food on such a scale has prompted action by the Trump administration and state governments, as well as grass-roots efforts like a group of college students who are renting trucks to rescue unsold onions and eggs from farms. But they most likely won’t be enough to address the problem if businesses remain closed for months.
Over the next few weeks, the Department of Agriculture will begin spending $300 million a month to buy surplus vegetables, fruit, milk and meat from distributors and ship them to food banks. The federal grants will also subsidize boxing up the purchases and transporting them to charitable groups — tasks that farmers have said they cannot afford, giving them few options other than to destroy the food.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office has said New York will give food banks $25 million to buy products made from excess milk on farms in the state; the state is working with manufacturers like Chobani, Hood and Cabot to turn the milk into cheese, yogurt and butter. Some of the state subsidy can also be used to buy apples, potatoes and other produce that farms have in storage.
It may only be a drop in the bucket, but it’s better than pouring the contents of the bucket down the drain. Too bad it’s taken this long.