May 2020 - 1

Delaware grower Katey
Evans lands Shark Tank
Cantaloupe diseases
present differently than
COVID-19 on produce
farms, packinghouses a
May 2020 | Volume 54 |
Issue 5
Virus spread complicates
produce growing, markets
Clockwise, from top left, Wish Farms
donates berries to Florida Baptist
Children's Home; the Brandon Kiwanis
Club chips in with Wish Farms' berry
donation distribution; berries being
donated to United Food Bank of Plant
City, Florida. Photos: Wish Farms
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate editor
Editor's note: This story was written
in early April, as the industry and
officials were still adjusting their
approach to a global pandemic.
The new coronavirus in March shut
down or slowed most U.S. businesses,
while specialty crop growers remained
a bright spot of industry.
State and federal authorities rightly
designated agriculture as a vital
enterprise and exempted growers,
their employees and other food-related
business from shelter-in-place orders
and other restrictions.
And so, growers and the greater
industry found themselves gearing up
for work, while neighbors were slowing
down or ceasing.
In March and early April, growers
and industry leaders began to navigate
rapidly-changing conditions for produce,
be it fresh, frozen or processed. Work to
meet wild consumer trends, discussion
of food safety practices and bravely
continuing farm operations were among
the rapids they navigated.
Work goes on
Nick Wishnatzki, marketing project
manager for Plant City, Florida's Wish
Farms, said April 6 that so far, " there
haven't been any major disruptions to
our business per se. "
But he was quick to add that he didn't
want to minimize the challenges Wish
Farms had navigated through given the
current environment. For instance, the
company took the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) guidelines very seriously.
" We are going above and beyond our
strict food safety procedures, " he said.
Farm operations continued.
" As far as labor goes, most of our field
labor is H-2A, " Wishnatzki said. " While
we were concerned initially about
delays, we have worked closely with our
labor contractors, trade associations
and Congressional representatives to
streamline the situation. We are hopeful
that labor situation has stabilized.
That said, our labor contractors are
also taking the CDC guidelines very
seriously. They are taking a number of
precautionary measures to protect the
health and safety of workers at the farm. "
Feeling thankful for being able to
continue its work, Wish Farms has tried
to " pay it forward " by donating 240,000
pounds of fruit, mostly to the charity
Feeding Tampa Bay. The United Food
Bank of Plant City also received six pallets
of strawberries and a donation of $5,000.
" We continue to try and fill needs
with a couple of dozen smaller local
organizations where we can, " Wishnatzki
said. " Starting this week and every
following week during this pandemic,
we will be dropping off berries to eight
local hospitals' staff as well as fire rescue
stations. We are so proud of the people on
the front lines and want to show them our
deep appreciation for their hard work. "
Yakima, Washington's Superfresh
Growers took a moment in the early
days of the COVID-19 pandemic to tell
its colleagues and clients that it hadn't
stopped shipping fruit.
" Through the efforts of our team
See COVID-19, page 5

May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2020

May 2020 - 1
May 2020 - 2
May 2020 - 3
May 2020 - 4
May 2020 - 5
May 2020 - 6
May 2020 - 7
May 2020 - 8
May 2020 - 9
May 2020 - 10
May 2020 - 11
May 2020 - 12
May 2020 - 13
May 2020 - 14
May 2020 - 15
May 2020 - 16
May 2020 - 17
May 2020 - 18
May 2020 - 19
May 2020 - 20
May 2020 - 21
May 2020 - 22
May 2020 - 23
May 2020 - 24