February 25, 2020

WIC Changes Impact Food Choices, Without Adding to Government Costs

Categories: Farm Bill /Food Aid /Obesity

Stephanie Strom reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “Can people make healthier food choices without spending more money?

In a review of federal food subsidy programs, researchers found that nudging shoppers toward more healthful foods pushed cheap junk food out of the family shopping basket without adding to the government’s costs.

“The data come from a study of purchases by users of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, before and after changes were imposed to encourage healthy eating.”

Ms. Strom noted that, “In 2009, the Department of Agriculture, which administers the WIC program, added vouchers aimed at increasing consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole grains while reducing saturated fat, cholesterol and sugar. To avoid raising overall costs, the program limited other items. The program restricted the amount of reduced-fat milk, cheese and juice recipients could buy, and eliminated whole milk from the program. If WIC users wanted to purchase foods not on the list, they had to use their own money, rather than the WIC vouchers or cards.

“While many nutritionists today would not agree with all the changes, particularly the focus on lowering fat, the net effect was an overall improvement in the quality of foods and beverages the shopper purchased.”


Ag Economy; and, Policy Issues

Agricultural Economy

AP writer David Pitt reported on Friday that, “A mild summer across much of the nation’s heartland has provided optimum growing conditions for the nation’s corn and soybean crops. Pair that with high-yield seeds and other new farming technologies, and the U.S. is looking at busting records come harvest time.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has predicted a record soybean crop of 3.8 billion bushels. And the corn crop, it said in July, would be large but not bigger than last year’s record of 13.9 billion bushels. However, many market analysts and some farmers expect the USDA to revise expectations upward in a report based on field surveys that’s due out Tuesday.”

The article noted that, “‘Illinois has largely been dealt to date pretty close to a royal flush on weather and I’m sure that the yields are going to be very high here,’ said Scott Irwin, a University of Illinois professor of agricultural and consumer economics.

The expected large harvest has driven corn and soybean prices significantly lower, but it isn’t expected to make much of a short-time difference in consumer food prices. However, since the grains are staples in livestock feed, lower prices could eventually lead to a decline in the cost of beef, pork, chicken and milk.”


Farm Bill Issues; Food Safety; Ag Economy; and Financial Regulation

Farm Bill: Resources- UNOFFICIAL Transcripts

Recall that back on April 30, the House Agriculture Committee held a field hearing in Des Moines, Iowa to review U.S. agriculture policy as the Committee begins the process of considering the 2012 Farm Bill.

An UNOFFICIAL transcript of this hearing has been posted at and is available here.

Likewise, last Tuesday, the House Ag Committee held a field hearing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in preparation for the 2012 Farm Bill.

An UNOFFICIAL transcript of this hearing has been posted at and is available here.

Meanwhile, a brief recap of all of the House Ag Committee Farm Bill hearings is available here.


Farm Bill Issues; and Climate Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Earlier this week, the House Agriculture Committee completed its tenth hearing reviewing U.S. agriculture policy as lawmakers begin the process of writing the 2012 Farm Bill. News articles on these hearings, which have been held in Washington, D.C. and around the country, continue to unfold.

With respect to Tuesday’s hearing in South Dakota, Dan Looker reported yesterday at Agriculture Online that, “Tuesday, a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the next farm bill found at least one consistent theme: farmers there and in nearby states like USDA-supported crop insurance and don’t want the program weakened. Other new programs, such as ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election) do need changes, they were told, even though many of the farmers who testified said they decided to enroll in ACRE last year.

“South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Somke, who raises grain and beef near Conde, asked the panel to keep crop insurance supported at current levels when Congress writes the next farm bill in 2012.

“‘Farmers have grown to use it as a marketing tool,’ Somke said. ‘And bankers have come to use it as well.’”


Policy Issues; Ag Economy; Climate – Biofuels Issues; and Financial Regulation

Farm Bill: House Ag Committee Field Hearing- Lubbock, Texas

Alyssa Dizon reported today at the Avalanche-Journal Online (Lubbock, Texas) that, “Producers from every major agriculture commodity group in Texas told agriculture legislators that provisions of a financial safety net was their common concern for the next farm bill.”

The article noted that, “‘I thought we had good testimony from a very broad range of agricultural interests,’ said U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas. ‘It’s important to come out here where agriculture is actually happening.’

“The select 13 witnesses submitted written testimonies to the committee and gave five-minute presentations regarding what has and has not been effective for their industries in the current farm bill. The most popular issues mentioned were crop insurance, international trade, environmental challenges and conservation programs.”

Most favored the USDA direct and counter-cyclical programs and marketing loan programs under the 2008 bill, which assisted in increasing production input costs and financial stability. Those same individuals cited problems with payment limitations, eligibility standards and complex application processes for some of USDA’s farm and conservation programs.”

Today’s article added that, “‘My intention is to get this bill out of the house by December of 2011 and try to get this bill done on time,’ [Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn] said.”


Agenda Filled with Farm Policy Issues; CFTC Issues; Climate Legislation; Mexican Ag Tariffs; Iowa Crop Damage; and Obesity

Agenda Filled with Farm Policy Issues

Janet Kubat Willette reported yesterday at AgriNews Online (Rochester, Minn) on comments made by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) at the FarmFest gathering that took place last week in Minnesota.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-7th District, said this Congressional session has been like drinking out of a fire hydrant,” the article said, adding that, “Once the farm bill passed, the chairman of the House agriculture committee wanted to focus on the ag department.

The department review was pushed onto the back burner by pressing issues caused by the collapse of the financial markets. Peterson, an accountant by training, devoted his time to studying credit default swaps and derivatives. He and Rep. Barney Frank are in 95 percent agreement on a bill to regulate Wall Street, Peterson said.”


EPA Considers E15; Ethanol- Food Price Debate; Peanuts; Food Safety; Rural Economy; WIC-Obesity; Climate Change and Hunger

EPA Considers E15

Reuters writer Ayesha Rascoe reported yesterday that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday it is seeking public comment on whether to allow a higher level of ethanol to be blended into gasoline. [Note: more complete details on this EPA development can be viewed here].

“Growth Energy and more than 50 ethanol manufacturers petitioned the EPA last month to raise the maximum blend level for ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent to as much as 15 percent.”


Chairman Peterson Comments on Farm Bill

David Dodds reported earlier this week at the Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota) Online that, “Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told a roomful of farmers and other interested people Monday that he won’t support an extension of the current farm bill if Congress can’t finalize a new one.”

The article stated that, “‘We got our bill done on time like we said we would, and the Senate is doing what it does best – milling around,’ Peterson said.


Commodity Prices, Production Decisions and the ’07 Farm Bill

Categories: China /Farm Bill /Obesity

I. Commodity Prices
II. China
III. Obesity

I. Commodity Prices

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (N.A.S.S.) released the December Agricultural Prices report.

New York Times Photo

The N.A.S.S. report indicated that, “The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in December, at 121 percent, based on 1990-92=100, increased 1 point (0.8 percent) from November. The Crop Index is up 6 points (4.9 percent) but the Livestock Index decreased 3 points (2.6 percent). Producers received higher commodity prices for lettuce, corn, grapes, and broccoli. Lower prices were received for turkeys, cattle, hogs, and tomatoes.”

More specifically, N.A.S.S. estimated that, “The December all wheat price, at $4.59 per bushel, is unchanged from November but $1.06 above December 2005…The corn price, at $3.01 per bushel, is up 14 cents from last month and $1.09 above December 2005…The soybean price, at $6.14 per bushel, increased 7 cents from November and is 36 cents above December 2005.”