Valley food banks benefit from trade war
While some industries are struggling as the U.S. trade war with China drags on, food banks are benefiting from the battle.
China is buying less from American farmers, so the U.S. Department of Agriculture is swooping in to help.
All of the produce like apples and oranges, along with potatoes from the Midwest and meat that used to be sold to China, is getting bought up by the federal government to stabilize the market.
As a result, much of that food is ending up at local food banks.
"The Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley has been the recipient of over 2 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as shelf-stable product," Mike Iberis said, executive director of the food bank.
The food is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's trade mitigation program. As soon as shipments arrive, the food quickly goes out to the food bank's partnered agencies. Iberis says the Second Harvest Food Bank can accommodate the additional food because they have an organized system in place and plenty of warehouse space.
The extra food comes at a time when the Valley sees an increase in the need for help.
"Because of the job losses and because of the layoffs in the valley this year, more people are showing up at food pantries and soup kitchens," Iberis said. "So, this has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise."
The Ohio Farm Bureau says farmers are getting government checks to pay for their crops, which in turn helps to stabilize the market.
The timing of the trade war isn't helping Ohio farmers, who saw a wet season and trouble planting earlier in the year.
"In spite of this trade assistance, the farm economy is struggling," Joe Cornely said, spokesperson for the Ohio Farm Bureau.
"Here in Ohio, we had a horrible planting season, so yields are going to be reduced, some crops never got planted at all."
Heading into 2020, he says farmers across the state are concerned about planning for next year's planting without a resolution to the trade war in sight.