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Farm Bureau Celebrates the Affordability of Food

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2007 – In just five weeks, the average American earns enough disposable income to pay for his or her food supply for the entire year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau is celebrating the continued affordability of food Feb. 4-10, during Food Check-Out Week.

The AFB Women's Leadership Committee presented a $2,500 donation to the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House during Food Check-Out Week. (Left to Right) Terry Gilbert, chair, AFB Women's Leadership Committee; Lisa Miller, house manager, Baltimore Ronald McDonald House; Sebastian Palmer of Jamaica; Marianne Rowan-Braun, executive director, Baltimore Ronald McDonald House; Daniel Roach of Texas. Click on the photo for a high res. image.

The latest statistics compiled by the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service indicate 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 means the average U.S. household will have earned enough disposable income – the portion of income available for spending or saving after taxes are paid – to pay for its annual food supply this week.

“When you consider the average price increases that Americans have absorbed for vehicles, gasoline and other consumer products over the past 20 years, the cost of food really does seem like a bargain,” said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and AFB Women’s Leadership Committee chair. “We are blessed with a safe, abundant and affordable domestic food supply here in the United States, thanks to the farmers and ranchers who produce it.”

On behalf of the American Farm Bureau, Gilbert and the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee donated $2,500, as well as food and farm-related children’s books to the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House. They were joined at that event by representatives of the Maryland Farm Bureau Women’s Committee. The donation also included farm toys donated by Case IH.

The Ronald McDonald House provides a “home-away-from-home” for the families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center and other area hospitals. The donation will be used to help feed families staying at the House. The committee also made a donation to Hope Lodge, a residence home in Baltimore for adults receiving treatment for cancer.

(Left to Right) Tom Chang of Taiwan; Sebastian Palmer of Jamaica and Daniel Roach of Texas can’t wait to play with farm equipment toys donated by Case IH to the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House. The AFB Women’s Leadership Committee presented the toys during Food Check-Out Week. Click on the photo for a high res. image.

In comparison to working 36 days to pay for food, Americans worked 77 days to pay their federal taxes, 62 days to pay for housing and household operation, and 52 days for health/medical care, according to The Tax Foundation.

Food Check-Out Week should be meaningful for most Americans, Gilbert said.

“As food producers, we remain concerned that some Americans are not able to afford to buy the food they need, but we are proud of the role U.S. farmer’s play in making our food supply more affordable for all,” she said.

The percent of disposable personal income spent for food has declined over the last 37 years. 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 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.

The AFB Women’s Leadership Committee members presented books about agriculture to the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House.  On behalf of Case IH, the committee members also presented farm equipment toys to children staying at the house. First row, (Left to Right) Sherry Saylor, vice chair, Arizona; Tom Chang of Taiwan; Sebastian Palmer of Jamaica; Beth Pool, New Jersey; Ginny Paarlberg, Florida. Second row, (Left to Right) Margene Harris, New Mexico; Joyce Haak, South Dakota; Terry Gilbert, chair, Kentucky; Helen Norris, Kansas; Ethel Nash, West Virginia; Frances Price, South Carolina; Angela Ryden, Colorado. Click on the photo for a high res. image. Follow this link to more Food Check-Out Week photos.


Contacts: Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642