February 1, 2007

Farm Bureau Marking February 6th as Food Check-Out Day

The cost of food in America remains affordable. According to the latest statistics compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, American families and individuals currently spend, on average, just under 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food.

Applying that statistic to the calendar year means the average household will have earned enough disposable income — that portion of income available for spending or saving — to pay for its annual food supply in 36 days, according to the Scotland County Farm Bureau.

In recognition of this amazing fact, Scotland County Farm Bureau is celebrating the week of February 4-10, as Food Check-Out Week and Tuesday, February 6, as Food Check-Out Day.

Not only is America’s food supply the world’s safest, but it’s also the most affordable, said Diane Kight, Information Chairman. “The safe, abundant and affordable domestic food supply produced by America’s farmers and ranchers is responsible, at least in part, for our nation’s increasing standard of living. Compared to food, Americans work longer each year to pay for their housing, federal taxes and medical care,” Kight said.

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans must work 52 days each year to pay for health and medical care, 62 days to pay for housing/household operation and 77 days to pay their federal taxes.

Kight said the affordable, high-quality food we enjoy as consumers is a product of our successful food production and distribution system, as well as American farmers’ and ranchers’ continued access to effective and affordable crop protection tools.

This week should hold meaning for most Americans, she said. “Although we are concerned some Americans cannot afford to buy the food they need, we are proud of the role Missouri’s farmers play in producing the most affordable food in the world.”

The percent of disposable personal income spent for food has declined over the past 35 years. In 1970, it took Americans 15 more days to earn enough income to pay for their food supply for the year. According to the USDA, food is more affordable today due to a widening gap between growth in per-capita incomes and the amount of money spent for food.

This overall decrease is noted by trends indicating Americans are buying more expensive convenience foods, as well as more food away from home.

USDA’s latest statistic includes food and non-alcoholic beverages consumed at home and away from home. This includes food purchases from grocery stores and other retail outlets, including food purchases with food stamps and vouchers for the Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) program. The statistic includes away-from-home meals and snacks purchased by families and individuals, as well as food furnished to employees.

Food Check-Out Day tracks the amount of income needed by Americans to purchase food on an annual basis, Kight said. “Despite a few fluctuations over the past few years, food prices have remained relatively stable over time.”

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