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Lincoln’s Rogers Family Company Tackling Coffee Rust Fungus Head-On

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LINCOLN (CBS13) — A Lincoln business is doing trying to turn the tide against a powerful fungus that’s killing coffee plants across Central America.

Coffee, mud, java, whatever you call it is something most of us love, if not need. But coffee is in a bit of trouble.

It’s known as La Roya, or coffee rust. The powerful fungus is taking over coffee farms throughout Central America.

“Definitely the worst,” said Jon Rogers with Rogers Family Company in Lincoln, “and there are countries where they are affecting 40 percent of this year’s crop and more of the next year’s crop.”

As those plants get rusty and die, it has a major effect on the world. Just ask Rogers.

“The quality will go down, and the price will go up,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

But to avoid that, the family-owned business is now taking the fungus on in a caffeinated fury to save businesses and the hard-working farmers they buy from. They’re spending $1 million of charity money to set up nurseries to grow more fungus-resistant coffee plants.

“We want the best, and the other thing we want is to keep these farmers in business,” he said.

Rogers is also finding ingenious ways for other plants to protect the farms’ coffee plants by planting them together.

“We collect seeds from the best of the coffee areas,” he said.

All in hopes of keeping his employees roasting and packing, and farmers a hemisphere away feeding their families.

“We’re a family company, and we’re going to be in the business for a long time,” he said.

The company isn’t raising their prices for coffee currently, but depending on how the crop ends up, they may have to soon.

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