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Farmers stuck with rotting produce as coronavirus scrambles supply chains: It’s ‘really weird right now’

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A soy and pea farmer looks bewildered (Shutterstock).

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted supply chains and wasted billions of dollars of food.

Farmers from California to Florida have a surplus of highly perishable food that would normally go to restaurants, schools, stadiums, theme parks and cruise ships — but those have been closed or restricted by social distancing guidelines, reported The Guardian.

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“What’s really weird right now in the supply chain is the grocery stores seem to be pretty heavy on product, farmers are throwing away stuff, and food banks are full,” said Brent Erenwert, CEO of the Houston-based Brothers Produce. “We don’t know where the demand lies.”

Farmers could lose up to $1.32 billion from March to May, according to National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

“Retail cannot absorb it,” said Florida farmer Paul Allen. “Whatever else you’ve got just goes unharvested and you’ve got to mulch it back into the ground.”

That surplus is going wasted as food banks are facing record demand and grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked, but the outbreak has scrambled supply chains and forced farmers to find new ways to get their goods to market.

Preparing and packaging food for retail is much different than wholesale, and packaging and shipping food on trucks is a costly new problem for farmers.

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“This is really having a disproportionate effect on warm weather states and smaller farms,” said Kara Heckert, a regional director for the American Farmland Trust. “It was kind of an overnight shift to at least a significant portion of the food system.”

Farmers who ship food directly to consumers have seen their business thrive, and some farm delivery programs have waiting lists hundreds of names long.

“Some consumers don’t feel safe going to the grocery store, unfortunately, because of too many people being there,” said Erenwert, whose company started shipping food directly to customers after the pandemic hit. “I know how to get that product safely to a consumer’s hand. The biggest thing was to keep my employees’ jobs and keep the supply chain moving – because if people see the supply chain stop, they go into even more of a panic.”

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Farmers would like to get their surplus produce to food banks and charities, but they aren’t set up to warehouse large amounts of perishable food.

“We’re working with the state to try to get it to charities,” Allen said, ‘but quite frankly, a lot of those avenues are full. They can’t absorb it all, no way.”

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Moon may be richer in water than thought — and it could help propel humans farther from earth

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There may be far more water on the Moon than previously thought, according to two studies published Monday raising the tantalising prospect that astronauts on future space missions could find refreshment -- and maybe even fuel -- on the lunar surface.

The Moon was believed to be bone dry until around a decade ago when a series of findings suggested that our nearest celestial neighbour has traces of water trapped in the surface.

Two new studies published in Nature Astronomy on Monday suggest there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed "cold traps" at lunar polar regions.

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Asymptomatic coronaagvirus sufferers lose antibodies sooner: study

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Asymptomatic coronavirus sufferers appear to lose detectable antibodies sooner than people who have exhibited Covid-19 symptoms, according to one of the biggest studies of its kind in Britain published on Tuesday.

The findings by Imperial College London and market research firm Ipsos Mori also suggest the loss of antibodies was slower in 18–24 year-olds compared to those aged 75 and over.

Overall, samples from hundreds of thousands of people across England between mid-June and late September showed the prevalence of virus antibodies fell by more than a quarter.

The research, commissioned by the British government and published Tuesday by Imperial, indicates people's immune response to Covid-19 reduces over time following infection.

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2020 Election

Early voting to be hit by heavy rain and flooding as Hurricane Zeta barrels towards the Gulf Coast

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Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall near Louisiana's border with Mississippi on Wednesday evening as campaigns work to get supporters to the polls and convince any undecided voters to back their candidate.

"Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are possible along portions of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and Storm Surge and Hurricane Watches are in effect," the National Hurricane Center warned.

"Between Tuesday night and Thursday, heavy rainfall is expected from portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states near and in advance of Zeta. This rainfall will lead to flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding," the center explained.

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