Various sources claim that Florida's coronavirus lockdown has caused a serious breakdown in the food supply chain in the state. For example, this Politico article states the following:

The scale of produce waste is staggering. Farmers in Florida, which provides much of the fresh produce to the eastern half of the U.S. during the winter and spring, left about 75 percent of the lettuce crop unharvested, along with significant portions of the state’s sweet corn, cabbage and squash. Up to 250 million pounds of tomatoes could end up left in the fields, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

However, I can't easily find these statistics on the FDACS website. Is the exact amount of unharvested lettuce available directly from the FDACS or another government or industry source?

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    Leaving a crop unharvested is not the same as destroying it. Apr 27, 2020 at 2:10
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    I think the claim is noteworthy regardless of this squabbling over "left unharvested" vs "destroyed". I've changed the title to match the quote.
    – Fizz
    Apr 27, 2020 at 2:22
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    I wouldn't be surprised if this is true. There have been similar problems in the EU, although perhaps not on this scale (yet). Spain has re-allowed their agri workers to return for this reasons IIRC (many in southern Spain live in literal shanty towns, and concern for them probably isn't high.) There was a BBC video on this, but it's hard to re-find video materials on their site.
    – Fizz
    Apr 27, 2020 at 2:26
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    @Oddthinking I am mostly interested in getting the claim confirmed from a primary source. The number seemed very high to me, so I am wondering if there was some kind of mistake. If the real percentage is 68.2% instead of 75%, the other points made in the article would still be valid; but if it's only 7.5%, then the article is "fake news."
    – Thorondor
    Apr 27, 2020 at 12:22
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    Just reporting a dead-end: 2019 USDA Vegetables report, issued in February, only records Arizona and California (page 54). Is that because Florida's lettuce production rounds down to zero? That doesn't seem consistent with the originally quoted article.
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 27, 2020 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


The Tallahasee Democrat and Fruit Growers News both report this figure to be from a telephone survey of growers, "the Florida Seasonal Crop COVID-19 Impact Assessment", conducted on April 15. I am not seeing any more direct reporting of the survey results than this. It also does not appear that official data has been released at this time, or that such figures are reported on a regular basis.

The USDA has lettuce data for acres planted and acres harvested for the state of Florida only for certain years, so it is unclear whether the more official data that may eventually be released will be sufficient to answer this question directly.

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