By Danielle Wiener-Bronner | CNN Business
March is typically Kate McClendon’s busiest month. But that changed with the coronavirus pandemic. Her family farm, McClendon’s Select, in Peoria, Arizona, supplies organic fruits and vegetables to about 90 restaurants, which normally receive a flood of customers with the spring weather.
Now, those businesses have shut down as state and local officials try to stem the spread of the virus. For McClendon, the closures have been devastating. “Basically 95% of our restaurant business went away overnight,” she said.
“There are going to be businesses, myself included, who might not be able to survive this,” McClendon added. “If those small farms are allowed just to go away, it is going to be too expensive to start it back up again.”
Farmers are rushing to adapt to the new normal, and the government is scrambling to help. The federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, has earmarked $16 billion in aid to agricultural producers through the USDA, in addition to other funds dedicated to supporting the agriculture industry more broadly.