Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Because restaurants and schools have closed, demand for fresh food dropped so much that farmers from Florida to California are plowing crops under. Meanwhile, demand for fresh food at food banks has skyrocketed because millions were suddenly unemployed. Here in Maine, which already had New England’s highest food insecurity rate, dairy farmers are dumping milk because they can’t sell it. Meanwhile, food bank volunteers are dwindling just when more are needed, and farmworkers are joining the ranks of the unemployed.

So, if the problems are a) too much food in some places, not enough in others and b) too many farmworkers, too few food bank volunteers, why not address both problems? What if the federal government bought a lot of that surplus and shipped it to food banks across the country?

In addition to keeping thousands of farmworkers employed, the federal government could temporarily hire thousands of unemployed workers to transport, unload and even distribute food to the millions of unemployed Americans who need it.

Instead, President Trump announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide farmers with an additional $16 billion bailout. Money for nothing? And NPR subsequently reported the White House has also directed the USDA to provide “wage relief” to farmers, permission to pay foreign guest workers less money. How do these measures help farmworkers and the unemployed? How do they address the problems of wasted food and people who need it? It seems this administration lacks both heart and imagination.

Gordon Street

Raymond


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