Editorial: The High Cost Of Eating

Have you been to the grocery store lately? Yes, it is happening: food prices (along with fuel prices) are steadily rising. Last month, in an article in the Wall Street Journal, Michael Swanson, an agricultural economist at Wells Fargo & Co., said he predicts retail food prices in the U.S. will go up between 3.5% and 4% in 2011, compared to about 1.5% in 2010.

Why are we seeing an increase in food prices? Well, for starters, bad weather situations in other parts of the world such as Russia and Australia have created shortages, and don’t forget the recent freezing temperatures in Florida.

This rise in food prices comes at a time when we have an unemployment rate of almost 10%. What will be the end result? At the very least, consumers will be tightening their belts — even more.

Food Safety History

As consumers are tightening their belts, FDA will be working to get funds together for its new job. With the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act last month, the agency now has a very tall order to fill: improve the security and safety of the nation’s food supply. The legislation is historic because it marks the first overhaul in more than 70 years of the nation’s food system. This pending overhaul, however, comes with a high price tag.

Right now, the law is expected to require $1.4 billion in funding. According to a Homeland Security Newswire Report, the $1.4 billion is to sustain the law for its first five years, which would include the cost of hiring about 2,000 additional food inspectors. FDA now has to figure out how to get the money and get the ball rolling. The amount of funding Congress will appropriate is still up in the air and, of course, not all legislators are on board with spending money this way.

Many of you are not on board with the new food safety law, either. The week the bill was signed into law, our eNewsletter included the poll question: “Do you think the Food Safety Modernization Act will significantly increase the safety of fresh produce in the U.S?” A whopping 77% of the respondents said “No.”

Make no mistake, though: this legislation will change the way many of you do business. Understanding what it is all about will be critical for your operation. If you are a grower who falls under the exemption (sales less than $500,000 annually), you will want to pay attention as well, because, after all, food safety affects everyone.

So where do we go from here? One big question that has to be in the back of most everyone’s mind is cost. How much will implementing this legislation cost the industry? What will it cost you? How will these costs be factored in to already rising food prices? These are the questions that must be addressed as FDA moves forward.

In addition to cost, what else do you need to know about the law? Well, stay tuned. In the March issue of American Vegetable Grower and on GrowingProduce.com, information gathered from numerous industry experts will be presented on what this legislation will mean to you.

To end on a positive note, FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said in a recent Homeland Security Newswire Report that the FDA’s goal is simple. The plan is to work with public and private partners “to build a new system of food safety oversight focused on applying the best available science and good common sense to prevent the problems that can make people sick.”
Let’s hope that’s the case.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wine Purchasing
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
IMPAC.org screenshot
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over Consumers
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what it is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Registration area at the 2017 Florida Blueberry Growers Association Spring Meeting
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a Comeback
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Agras MG-1 agriculture drone
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challenge
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honored
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to Congress
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Chill Hours
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
The Latest
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wi…
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what it is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honor…
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to…
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Ch…
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More
Citrus
February 16, 2017
Food Trends Driving Growth Opportunities…
More niche markets emerging for growers to give consumers what they want and need. Read More
Vegetables
February 15, 2017
Tanimura & Antle Will Now Be Partial…
The third-generation farming company takes employee commitment to the next level Read More
Business Planning
February 15, 2017
Are Retailers Your New Competition?
Target will be following a trend that is already under way in Germany and China: offering shoppers greens that are grown right there in the store. Read More
Citrus
February 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Community Loses Longtime …
John Merritt, known as an innovative grower and staunch industry advocate, was 60. Read More
Farm Management
February 14, 2017
Californians Holding Breath as More Stor…
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated below nation’s tallest dam; even growers have had enough for now. Read More
Stone Fruit
February 14, 2017
Georgia Peach Growers Brace for Low Chil…
Last year trees netted almost 700 chill hours; however, Extension agent expects that figure to drop to 600 hours this year. Read More
Grapes
February 14, 2017
2016 California Winegrape Crush Up 9%
Prices were up 12%, and red wine grapes continue to gain on white wine grapes in popularity, though ‘Chardonnay’ remained king. Read More
Berries
February 14, 2017
Wish Farms Shows Love With Super-Sized S…
More than 4,000 pounds of locally grown produce from Central Florida farming operation goes to help feed needy families in the Tampa area. Read More