FARM BUREAU'S FOOD CHECK-OUT WEEK CELEBRATES AFFORDABILITY OF FOOD
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- It's the most basic human need, and fortunately, one of the easiest to meet. It's food, and in just five weeks into 2006, the average American will have earned enough disposable income to pay for his or her food supply for the entire year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
That's why the Alabama Farmers Federation, an affiliate of the American Farm Bureau, is celebrating Jan. 29-Feb. 4 as part of the AFB's national Food Check-Out Week. The latest statistics compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service indicate American families and individuals currently spend, on average, just 9.5 percent of their disposable personal income for food.
Applying the current statistic to the calendar year, that 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 five weeks.
Not only is America's food supply the world's safest, but it's also the most affordable, said Kim Earwood, director of the Federation's Women's Division.
"Our nation's increasing standard of living would certainly be reduced without the safe, abundant and affordable domestic food supply produced by America's farmers and ranchers," she said, adding that Food Check-Out Week tracks the amount of income needed by Americans to purchase food on an annual basis.
In comparison to Food Check-Out Week, most Americans will work until mid-April 2006 simply to pay their 2005 taxes, according to The Tax Foundation, which has designated that day as Tax Freedom Day.
Observing Food Check-Out Week should hold meaning for most Americans, said Ms. Earwood. "As food producers, we are concerned that some Americans cannot afford to buy the food they need," she said, "but we are proud of the role Alabama farmers play in making our food supply more affordable for all." The farmer's share of every food dollar is just 19 cents.
The percent of disposable personal income spent for food has declined over the last 34 years. According to USDA, the 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 USDA's latest statistic, compiled for 2004, 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.