A vegetable cutting tool maker has sold surplus at an auction, marking the first time in decades that people can own surplus supplies of food and other goods.
In a sign of the times, the California company, Green Valley Harvest, sells surplus vegetables from its factory in California to food and agriculture suppliers.
It’s the first auction in nearly four decades in which a company has sold food supplies to customers at a profit.
The company, which began in 1962 as a family farm, had been producing food products for about a decade, but the drought of the 1970s led to the demise of production and production was halted.
In 2000, it moved its plant to Fresno, California, where it has been producing its products ever since.
The auction came as California’s drought worsened, and some farmers who were hoping to turn a profit were forced to sell their surplus products to people who wanted them for their own consumption, said Steve Pockrath, executive director of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
“It’s a little bit of a blessing that the company is selling surplus,” Pocknath said.
“The farmers, and in many cases, they’re farmers who would never have been able to survive without the help of the government.”
The surplus was originally brought to Green Valley in 1971 by the United Fruit Company, which owns a huge citrus fruit company, and has been sitting in storage for nearly two decades.
A federal court in San Francisco ruled in 2006 that the surplus could be used to benefit low-income people who need food assistance, and that the government was allowed to use the surplus for agricultural projects.
The surplus became part of the farm’s business plan, but because of the lack of a viable source of income, Greenville Harvest was unable to sell the surplus to anyone.
“We wanted to keep the surplus as a museum piece, and the government agreed,” Pucknath told The Associated Press.
“We are now going to sell it to our customers.”
The company says it is planning to turn the surplus into art and display it in museums nationwide.
The sale came on the heels of a record year for vegetable harvesting in California, with an average of more than 1.3 million pounds of crops harvested in 2016.
About 1.4 million pounds was produced last year.