- Posted by Admin
- On February 17, 2017
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- American Enterprise Institute, Chairman Conaway, Choice, Consumer Confusion, Cornell, Date Labeling, Farm Bill, Food Marketing Institute, Food Trust, food waste, grocery manufacturer's association, Hamilton Project, house agriculture committee, SNAP, SNAP Purchases, SNAP Restrictions
In an effort to share the happenings and highlights in food policy, Food Directions shares the weekly “Things You Need to Know” list.
This week, the House Committee on Agriculture held two Public Hearings:
Rural Economic Outlook: Setting the Stage for the Next Farm Bill
Chairman Conaway stressed that Rural America is currently facing hard times and the importance of the Farm Bill. Key issues for the 2018 Farm Bill mentioned throughout the hearing included 1) the importance of the export of agricultural products, specifically soybean, corn, wheat, cotton and dairy; 2) how the Farm Bill can help younger farmers; and 3) the need to increase the participation in insurance programs for dairy producers. Issues discussed pertaining to food access and nutrition included 1) the need to increase and improve the production and access to local foods; 2) the need to expand agricultural exports not just in global markets, but also in urban markets; and 3) the need to increase milk consumption, especially in school meal programs. Chairman Conaway concluded by pointing out the importance of the 2018 Farm Bill considering the current state of Rural America and the importance of engaging the consumer. He plans for the 2018 Farm Bill to be done and done on time.
Pros and Cons of Restricting SNAP Purchases
This week the House Committee on Agriculture of the 115th Congress met to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill. Chairman Mike Conaway hosted the hearing to reflect upon USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase study done in fall 2016. While purchases were found to be similar regardless of household type, the report noted that both types of households spent about forty cents of every food purchase dollar on basic items like meat, fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and bread, and an additional 40 cents of every dollar were spent on rice, beans, cereal, prepared foods, other dairy products, and other cooking ingredients. About 20 cents of every dollar went toward items such as desserts, salty snacks, candy, sugar and sweetened drinks, regenerating discussion around the pros and cons of restricting SNAP purchases. Vice Chairman Peterson followed Chairman Conaway’s comments by noting all Americans make poor choices when it comes to diet and he is not sure government is the best way to improve these choices.
After hearing testimony from a panel consisting of representatives from the Food Marketing Institute, Cornell University, American Enterprise Institute, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute, and the Food Trust, Committee Members raised concerns and asked questions. The majority of witnesses gave reasoning why SNAP restrictions would be costly and likely ineffective, while only the American Enterprise Institute defended the potential benefits of SNAP restrictions. Arguments against SNAP restrictions included burden and cost to comply as well as difficulty in creation of a nutrition criteria or healthy food list. On the other side, arguments for SNAP restrictions included how restrictions could help lower rising healthcare costs associated with food related chronic diseases, how the current restrictions for other products (i.e. house hold products, alcohol, cigarettes) can be applied to certain food items and how the given state of technology would make compliance feasible. The Committee and panel also discussed more positive actions such as incentives for healthy purchases for farmers, retailers and consumers.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute have agreed to voluntarily adopt standard wording for date labeling to help reduce consumer confusion and food waste.