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Farm Bureau sponsors food check-out week promotion

The average cost of food in America remains affordable. According to the most recent information compiled by the USDA's Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food. Applying this statistic to the calendar year means the average household will have earned enough money to pay for its annual food supply in about 37 days or five weeks.

To celebrate the affordability of food in America, Georgia Farm Bureau is joining America Farm Bureau in celebrating Feb. 3-9, as Farm Bureau's Food Check-Out Week. To celebrate America's safe and abundant food supply, McDuffie County Farm Bureau is participating in a statewide Food Check-Out Week event. During January and early February, McDuffie County Farm Bureau volunteers will be accepting donations to assist the hungry in their county and provide food and assistance for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia.

"Not only is America's food supply among the world's safest, it is the most affordable," said J. Robert Farr, McDuffie County Farm Bureau President. "The abundant, affordable and safe domestic food supply produced by America's farmers and ranchers is responsible, at least in part, for our nation's increasing standard of living. "As we celebrate the efficiency and productivity of our farmers in Georgia and all our farmers and ranchers in the United States, we want to share that bounty with others less fortunate in our community and be a part of the statewide effort to provide assistance for one of the Ronald McDonald Houses in Georgia."

For every donation made at the McDuffie County Farm Bureau Office, the donor's name will be written on a special card and displayed during the donation period.

"Of the money collected during this time, half will stay here for us to assist the hungry in McDuffie County. The other half will go to the Georgia Farm Bureau Women's Committee, the sponsor of the statewide effort, to help families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia In Macon," said Avis McGahee, McDuffie County Farm Bureau Women's Committee Chair.

The Ronald McDonald House provides a "home-away-from-home" for the families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment in the area. The financial assistance will help them take care of the needs of the families staying at the house, including food. Each year, the Georgia Farm Bureau Women's Committee rotates the state focus to a different Ronald McDonald House.

In comparison to Food Check-Out Day, Tax Freedom Day, the day the average American must work to earn enough to pay federal, state and local taxes, was April 30, last year, according to The Tax Foundation. According to the Tax Foundation, Americans work an average of 52 days each year to pay for health and medical care, 62 days to pay for housing/household operation and 77 days to pay for federal taxes.

"Americans work longer each year to pay for their house, federal taxes and medical care, compared to food," Mr. Farr said.

Food Check-Out Week should hold meaning for most Americans, Mr.Farr said. "We remain concerned that some Americans cannot afford to buy the food they need, but we are proud of the role Georgia farmers play in producing the most affordable food in the world."

The percent of disposable personal income spent for food has declined over the last 35 years. In 1970, it took Americans 14 more days to earn enough income to pay for their food supply for the year. According to USDA, food is more affordable today due to a widening gap between growth in per-capital incomes and the amount of money spent for food.

This overall decrease is made more notable by trends indicating Americans are buying more expensive convenience foods, as well as more food away from home.

USDA's latest statistic, compiled for 2006, includes food and non-alcoholic beverages consumed at home and away from home. This includes food purchases at 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, Mr. Farr said.

"The high-quality, affordable food consumers 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," said Mr. Farr. "We hope that consumers take note of Food Check-Out Week and join us in this celebration of American agriculture's success."

Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the state's largest general farm organization with almost 435,000 member families statewide.

Web posted on Thursday, January 31, 2008

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