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Coffee Crisis – Where Dem Beans At?

Your morning cup of joe could get more expensive. As Central American farmers fight a devastating coffee disease, the U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to help them in order to keep coffee prices stable.

A fungus called coffee rust has already caused more than $1 billion in damage across the Latin American region. It is especially deadly to Arabica coffee, the bean used in most high-end, specialty coffee brews — and it has already affected the price of some coffee in the United States.

Coffee leaf rust, western Bolivia. - Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Coffee leaf rust, western Bolivia.Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

We are concerned because we know coffee rust is already causing massive amounts of devastation,” said Raj Shad, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. A $5 million partnership with Texas A&M University’s World Coffee Research center has been announced, with the goal to find ways to eliminate the fungus.

The U.S. government isn’t entering into this partnership to protect your $4 speciality coffees but to help keep the economic security of these small, international farms. If farmers lose their jobs, hunger and poverty increases, contributing to violence and drug trafficking.

It’s estimated that production could be down anywhere from 15-40% in the coming years, with as many as 500,000 people losing their jobs. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica have all been hard particularly hit.

We don’t see an end in sight anytime soon,” said Leonardo Lombardini of Texas A&M’s World Coffee Research.

 

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