By the end of this week, most Americans will have earned enough disposable income to pay for their food for the entire year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. County and state Farm Bureaus around the nation are celebrating the efforts of farmers and ranchers, and the continued affordability of food, during Food Check-Out Week, Feb. 3-9.
According to the most recent statistics compiled by the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service, American families and individuals 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.
“America’s food supply remains abundant and affordable, thanks to the hard-working farm and ranch families who produce it,” said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee.
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 Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, South Carolina. They were joined at the event by representatives of the South Carolina Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership 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 area hospitals. The donation will be used to help feed families staying at the House.
During Food Check-Out Week, it is appropriate for Americans to reflect on their ability to purchase food and how they might help those in need in their communities, 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 part U.S. farmer’s play in ensuring our food supply is affordable overall,” she said.
Gilbert acknowledged consumers may have noticed their food dollar stretched a little tighter lately, but noted it is due primarily to rising energy costs, which have led to higher expenses for processing, packing and transporting food for retail sale. According to USDA, food has been more affordable overall in recent years compared to several decades ago due to a widening gap between growth in per-capita incomes and the amount of money spent for food.
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.
In comparison to working 37 days to pay for food, Americans worked 77 days to pay their federal taxes, 62 days to pay for housing/household operation, and 52 days for health/medical care, according to The Tax Foundation.