Fungus in Latin America could affect U.S. coffee prices - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Fungus in Latin America could affect U.S. coffee prices

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Photo: International Center for Tropical Agriculture Photo: International Center for Tropical Agriculture
By Dana Griffin

dgriffin@abc6.com

@danaRgriffin

PROVIDENCE, RI- That morning cup of coffee you enjoy could cost you more because of a problem destroying crops in Latin America. It's such a concern the U.S. government is taking steps to fight it.

Coffee rust is affecting high–end varieties sold at White Electric Coffee, in Providence.

"As a small business owner, as soon as you hear that your main product is going to be skyrocketing price, your heart sinks cause you think, how am I gonna survive," said White Electric Coffee owner, Tom Toupin.

The U.S. Government just partnered with Texas A & M's World Coffee Research Center for a four-year, $5million dollar project to stop the fungus.

"We can't promise that we'll be able to solve everything in four years, we're definitely gonna set the grounds for the future," said Dr. Leonardo Lombardini.

Lombardini, the deputy director for World Coffee Research stresses the U.S has to get involved to stop a trickle–down effect that would drive up cost in the U.S. and increase crime in Latin America.

Lombardini adds, "They need to make money fast. What do people do when they need money fast? They rob a bank or something of the equivalent.”

Coffee Exchange owner, Charlie Fishbein said, "These people have to live and they have to feed their families. If they don't have that, they'll leave the coffee farm. They'll go into the cities; they'll migrate to the U.S. They'll do whatever necessary, either drugs or prostitution and this cycle just keeps going on. We can fight this with these people by beating this disease."

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