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Greg Gibson, Coordinator
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email: ggibson@msfb.org

Farm Bureau Commemorates Food Check-Out Day


JACKSON – Food in America is affordable. In fact, in just 37 days, the average American will have earned enough disposable income to pay for his or her food supply for the entire year, according to the Mississippi Farm Bureau.

As a result, the Mississippi Farm Bureau is celebrating Feb. 7 as Farm Bureau’s Food Check-Out Day. According to the latest statistics compiled by the Agriculture Department’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service, American families and individuals currently spend, on average, just 9.9 percent of their disposable personal income for food.

Applying the current statistic to the calendar year, it 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 just 37 days.

”Not only is America’s food supply the world’s safest, but it’s also the most affordable,” said David Waide, president of Farm Bureau. “It speaks well of our nation’s increasing standard of living, which would certainly be reduced without the safe, abundant, and affordable domestic food supply produced by America’s farmers and ranchers.”

In comparison to Food Check-Out Day, it took Americans 77 days of working to reach Tax Freedom Day. That’s the day the average American had earned enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes according to The Tax Foundation.

“I find it amazing that people can pay for their yearly food supply more than two months earlier than it would take them to satisfy their tax burden,” Waide said. “Rather than being an economic burden, food remains quite a bargain for shoppers. That’s the way it should be.”

Waide hopes Americans will come to understand that the high-quality, affordable food they enjoy is a product of our successful food production and distribution system, as well as America’s farmers retaining access to effective and affordable crop protection tools.

”This day should hold meaning for most Americans,” he said. “As food producers, we are concerned that some Americans cannot afford to buy the food they need, but we are proud of the role Mississippi farmers play in making our food supply more affordable for all.”

The percent of disposable personal income spent for food has declined over the last 34 years. In 1970, Food Check-Out Day would have been 14 days later -- Feb. 21. According to 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 made more notable by the fact that trends indicate Americans are buying more expensive convenience food items for preparation at home, as well as more food away from home.

The Agriculture Department’s latest statistic, compiled for 2003, 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 also 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,” Waide said. “It should be useful over time to measure fluctuations in the affordability of food.”

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The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm organization with more than 230,000 member-families statewide.  There are Farm Bureaus in all 82 counties in Mississippi where agriculture comprises a fundamental part of Mississippi 's economy.  Headquartered in Jackson , the federation is an independent, non-profit agricultural organization and is not associated with any arm of the government.  For more information about Farm Bureau, visit our website at www.msfb.com.

© 2007 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation