News Update
May 11, 2007

Consumer Food Safety Confidence Drops, Energy Costs Change Buying Behavior

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) released a report this week detailing how foodborne illness outbreaks and high energy costs are significantly changing consumer shopping behavior and attitudes.

According to FMI’s “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, 2007” report, consumer confidence in supermarket food safety declined to 66% — the lowest point since apple pesticide and contaminated grapes became a concern in 1989. Confidence in restaurant food is reportedly lower, at 43%.

FMI findings show 38% of consumers stopped purchasing certain foods — including spinach, lettuce, bagged salad and beef — in the last year due to safety concerns.

For more information about the FMI findings visit

China Heightens Inspections

China announced Wednesday it will be strengthening inspections of export products, according to a news article appearing on Yahoo News.

Chinese officials ordered more inspections of all plant and aquaculture products as well as increased control of pesticides, fertilizers, drugs and animal feed, according to the article.

The announcement comes after a series of international health scares traced to food/feed products originating from China.

Johanns Outlines Farm Bill Proposals to Improve Trade

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns yesterday described the Administration’s Farm Bill proposals regarding international trade, pointing out that the trade provisions complement the entire Farm Bill package.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the Administration’s proposals for trade would increase funding for the Market Access Program; target funds to boost international markets for specialty crops; increase the U.S. presence within international trade standard-setting organizations; provide additional tools to respond to unfair trade practices; and strengthen efforts to revitalize the agricultural sectors in fragile regions.

For more information, visit

Congressmen Introduce Farm Bill Proposal

Rep. Ron Kind (D–Wis.), Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.), Joe Crowley (D–N.Y.) and David Reichert (R–Wash.) announced May 10 their plans to introduce legislation to the U.S. House of Representatives that they say “provides a bold new direction for farm policy.”

According to a release issued by Kind, “The Food & Agriculture Risk Management for the 21st Century Act (FARM 21)” proposal will suggest the current farm subsidy system be transitioned to a more cost-effective and responsive system of farmer-held risk management accounts (RMAs) and revenue insurance tools.

Kind said such tools will help bring farm programs into compliance with trade agreements and boost international negotiations while improving the environment and reducing the national deficit.

The legislation calls for a farmer safety net that is estimated to cost approximately $20 billion less over five years and $55 billion less over ten years than extension of current farm subsidies. The suggested reforms would also, according to Kind, increase funding for renewable energy programs and renewable energy research by at least $1 billion over five years, including funding to provide at least $5 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy development on farms, ranches and forest lands.

For more information and to view Kind’s release, visit

— compiled by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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