Tag Archives: USDA

Costs Up, Quality Down for School Lunch

MyPlateSchools across the U.S. are struggling to meet the school lunch requirements championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and regulated by the Departments of Agriculture and Education. School boards continue to raise the prices of school lunch while simultaneously reducing the amount of healthy foods offered to students.

The new school lunch requirements, defined in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), have prompted the Government Accountability Office to recommend the Department of Agriculture modify its regulations. The GAO investigated several schools and food distributors and found a decrease in meat and grains served to students, and an increase in sugar, salt, and fat, in direct opposition to the stated goals of the new nutrition standards passed by Congress in 2010.

As schools struggle to meet the new calorie counts and portion sizes, many are having to raise prices in order to meet the federal standards and receive federal funding.

The Lynchburg City School Board is the latest in a list of schools nationwide to debate increased school lunch prices. The board is considering the price hike as a result of the new federal mandates on pricing and food offerings. In recent months, prices in Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and elsewhere have increased by 10, 15 and even 25 cents per student.

In many cases, the quality of foods offered to students has decreased despite the price jump. One fourth grader went undercover to document the quality of his New York City public school lunch offering. Video here: Yuck! In his documentary, Zachary Maxwell records his school lunches for six months and brings to light the vast difference between what the Department of Education and his school say publicly about the lunch menu and the reality of what is actually served to students.

The GAO found some schools substitute whole grain chips for potato chips, natural shredded cheese for processed cheese sauce, and add high-in-fat sauces like ranch dressing in order to meet the minimum calorie requirements. Ketchup and pizza sauce are considered “vegetables” in some cases and hamburger patty sizes have nearly been cut in half.

The Department of Agriculture has agreed to temporarily suspend some meat and grain limits until further review, but students still aren’t buying it. Many reports have emerged from students and school districts all over the country saying students are left hungry and are in some cases boycotting the meals.

To learn more about the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and the War on School Lunch, click here.

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USDA wants meat origins on labels

C. K. Hartman (CC)

C. K. Hartman (CC)


Ever think about where the cow was born and slaughtered when you were biting into a nice, juicy burger? If you’re like most people, probably not. But that might change if the U.S. Department of Agriculture gets its way. Taking “truth in advertising” to a whole new level, the USDA wants to include the location where livestock is born, raised, and slaughtered – along with the dates these things occurred – on meat packaging.

While the reasoning behind this might seem at least a little logical, at least when it comes to tracking meat that causes illness in humans, this isn’t a business-friendly policy particularly for imported meat. Additionally, as with any other governmental requirements in business, this will eventually affect food prices for consumers, and not in a good way. Canada and Mexico have leveled complaints about this proposed policy, stating that it amounts to “thinly-veiled protectionism” meant to corner them out of the U.S. food market.

The Food Marketing Institute, which represents retail giants like Target and single-store groceries, says the new rules will cost many millions of dollars to implement and result in higher food prices.

Canada and Mexico filed legal objections with the World Trade Organization, arguing that their livestock exporters would be hurt by what they see as a protectionist policy. The U.S. lost the initial judgment and again on appeal.
Following the dual setbacks, the Obama administration has until May 23 to revise the program. Changes have been made, but both Canada and Mexico say the revised regulations would still hurt their livestock exporters.

The two nations are joined by unhappy U.S. livestock and food industry groups, including the prime lobbying group for supermarkets, in alleging that it’s all too expensive and unnecessary.

Major U.S. cattle ranchers and consumer groups, however, argue that Americans want to know as much as possible about what they eat.

Of course since this policy would benefit U.S. cattle ranchers, it’s no wonder that they would claim that Americans really do want to see the word “slaughtered” on all their meat purchases. Perhaps the consumer groups also need to figure out what the public really means by the phrase “as much as possible” in this context.

VOODOO Food Economics

The USDA, in trying to increase participation in the SNAP or food stamp program, claims that for every dollar transferred to beneficiaries a dollar and seventy-two cents in economic activity is generated.

If we were to follow this mushy thinking to it’s logical conclusion, then if we all quit our jobs, closed our businesses and went on the program, we would live in a prosperous nation.

To illustrate this thinking, and expose it’s fallacy, suppose you have ten dollars to spend on food. The government takes one of those dollars from you, and gives it to someone else to spend on food. Now you only have nine dollars to spend on food, and someone else has one of your dollars.

It gets worse. It costs money in governmental bureaucracy to transfer your dollar to someone else, so by the time the recipient receives your dollar, it is only eighty-four cents. Now you have nine dollars to spend on food, and someone else has eighty-four cents.

Still it gets worse. Suppose instead of your original ten dollars, you only had nine dollars and sixty cents. The government takes your sixty cents, and borrows the other forty cents from China, at 3% interest, and gives you the bill. Now you have nine dollars to spend on food, but you owe China forty cents plus 3% interest on the forty cents, and someone else has eighty-four cents to spend on food.

The Chinese are better off by $0.012 (the interest on the forty cents borrowed in your name), the government is better off by $0.16 (administrative costs), but you are worse off by $1.012

Now instead your original $9.60 to spend on food, you only have $8.588 and the person your money was taken to help has $.084, making the total amount to spend on food $9.428

Wouldn’t it be better to improve the job outlook by putting into practice the recommendations of Obama’s own Jobs Czar Jeff Immelt, who told CNN in September of 2011 the way to create jobs in America was to create a stable and predictable tax environment with lower corporate rates and closed loopholes to be competitive with other countries, smaller government, reduced debt and deficit, a trained workforce, a friendlier regulatory environment, and more certainty on health care costs and regulations.

Food Stamp Nation [video]

“We haven’t had a quadrupling of the number of people that are hungry in the country; that’s what the food stamp program was meant to be. What we have [is] a political ideology in power in Washington of liberalism which believes that a measure of success of government is how many people it quote-unquote ‘helps.’ Or, to look at it another way, how many people it makes dependent on its ministrations. And therefore for them this is a great success. They want to see this sort of natural American aversion to taking a handout… whittled down.”

USDA launches new website to help new farmers and ranchers

Start2Farm.gov is the new place to go to get help starting your new farm or ranch. The website will provide assistance for beginner farmers and ranchers by offer training, help with financing and provide technical assistance and other support related services.

USDA's start2farm.gov helping new farmers

USDA's start2farm.gov helping new farmers

US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack said “America’s farmers and rural communities are vitally important to our nation’s economy, producing the food, feed, fiber and fuel that continue to help us grow. USDA is working to provide opportunities for the next generation to get into agriculture in order to continue the record success of America’s farmers and ranchers who are seeing record farm incomes and record exports. Start2Farm.gov will help us protect and sustain these successes, so that we continue to build an agriculture industry diverse and successful enough to attract the smartest, hardest-working young people in the nation.”

Start2farm.gov

Start2farm.gov

The funding for Start2Farm.gov by NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which aided in the development of education and training programs to provide the next generation of US farmers and ranchers with greater sustainability.

Alaskan Growers School which is funded by the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program

Alaskan Growers School which is funded by the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program

Start2Farm.gov allows beginning farmers to search for programs and resources that provides training and financing. An Event Calendar is also listed to find local events in your area. The site also allows you to connect to other farmers and gain access to How-to’s of farming including farm management, marketing, planning and more.

By USDA definition, beginning farmers are those operating a farm or ranch with 10 years or less experience. USDA states that 20% of 2.1 million US farms are classified as beginning farms. If you fit this category you can still qualify for the many programs available to you by the USDA through start2farm.gov website.

With the realization that US can be productive and thrive in today’s economy through our agriculture, building tomorrow’s farmers and ranchers is the goal of start2farm.gov website.

As relations in the US-China Symposium goes well, we could see huge gains in US agricultural growth and agricultural jobs for 2012 and the years to come.

Sen. Tom Coburn: Tax Payers Subsidizing Millionaires

A few days ago, I heard a little snippet on the radio about John Bon Jovi receiving farm subsidies from the federal government. I was busy writing another article, so I jotted down a note to remind me to look into this. Frankly, when I heard the report I was both shocked and skeptical at the same time. I thought, “Surely multi-millionaire performers aren’t being paid farm subsidies with my tax money”. I had just heard Barack Obama talk about rich people paying their “fair share of taxes”. Well, today I decided to take a look at this obviously bogus attempt by vicious, hate-filled conservatives to slander our messianic leader.

As it turns out it wasn’t slander at all. I did a search for ”Sen. Tom Coburn + subsidies” and guess what I found, a 36 page report by the Senator from Oklahoma listing billions in tax dollars going to some of the richest people in this nation every year. This link will take you to the entire report.

In the letter to taxpayers Sen. Coburn wrote:

These billions of dollars for millionaires include $74 million of unemployment checks, $316
million in farm subsidies, $89 million for preservation of ranches and estates, $9 billion of
retirement checks, $75.6 million in residential energy tax credits, and $7.5 million to compensate
for damages caused by emergencies to property that should have been insured. All and all, over
$9.5 billion in government benefits have been paid to millionaires since 2003. Millionaires also
borrowed $16 million in government backed education loans to attend college.

On average, each year, this report found that millionaires enjoy benefits from tax giveaways and federal grant programs totaling $30 billion. As a result, almost 1,500 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009.

I have also listed a portion of the report that lists some of the different subsidies that these ultra-wealthy people draw from the same government that taxes me, and from the same Barack Obama that castigates the rich as “not paying their fair share”.

Summary of Total Payments and Tax Breaks to Millionaires
Total Amount of Government Payments to Millionaires
Program Years Total Amount Paid to Millionaires
Social Security Retirement Benefits 2004-2009 $9 billion
Unemployment Insurance 2005-2009 $74 million
Farm Program Payments 2003-2009 $316 million
Conservation Program Payments 2009-2010 $89 million
Disaster Housing Payments 2007-2010 $7.5 million
Total Amount of Payments $9.5 billion
The annual average amount of government payments to millionaires is $1.6 billion.
Total Amount of Tax Breaks Claimed by Millionaires
Tax Breaks Years Total Amount Deducted by Millionaires
Mortgage Interest Deduction 2006-2009 $27.7 billion
Rental Expenses Deduction 2006-2009 $64.3 billion
Gambling Losses Deducted 2006-2009 $21 billion
Cancelled Debt Deduction 2008-2009 $128 million
Business Entertainment Expenses
Deduction
2006-2009 $607.7 million
Electric Vehicle Credit 2009 $12.5 million
Childcare Tax Credit 2007-2009 $18.15 million
Renewable Energy Credit 2009 $75.6 million
Total Taxpayer Cost to the Treasury of all
Credits and Deductions
$113.7 billion

The annual average amount of tax breaks claimed by millionaires is $28.5 billion.

John Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Ted Turner, and Quincy Jones are just some of the names I have turned up in looking into this scam. How is it that these people can take money from hard working Americans and pad their extravagant lifestyles with money taken through threat of prison if we don’t pay up? Aren’t these the same liberal elite who decry lack of government support of the poor? It seems to me they have no conscience when they yell about the plight of the poor yet turn around and take this kind of money away from those same poor people, as well as from the tax paying citizen who works every day to scratch out a living. Where are the Occupy Wall Street people when you need them? Why aren’t they in Hollywood or at the White House with their squawking?

I saw some video of Barack Obama in Kansas a few days ago, using his best Benito Mussolini pose, spouting his latest campaign tactic about rich people not paying their fair share of taxes. I just wrote an article about that very speech, combined with a clip of an MSNBC interview with T. Boone Pickens that I heard on the radio. Obama rails about the rich not paying their fair share, then sticks his nose up in the air just like Il Duce used to do. All the while, he looks around to the applause of a crowd so apparently ignorant of the truth that they applaud and cheer when they should be booing and throwing shoes. If they would only take a minute to see the things I see, and take a real objective look at what is truly happening!

After seeing that display in Kansas, I stumbled onto my note about the subsidies for ultra wealthy entertainers and media moguls, and began to look into this situation. What I found is not only alarming it is disgusting. How can Obama stand up there and lie without any semblance of shame? And when I say lie, I don’t mean he “misunderstands” the situation. And I don’t mean the “lying is a state of mind” line Eric Holder is trying to pull at the Fast and Furious investigations.

Obama recently stated that if he didn’t get the debt ceiling raised, Social Security recipients, military personnel, and those depending on welfare checks would do without because Republicans hate poor people. I don’t remember him mentioning John Bon Jovi not receiving his farm subsidy, or Ted Turner having to do without is unemployment check. I don’t remember Obama mentioning poor Scottie Pippen doing without an evening meal if the debt ceiling didn’t go up $2.4 trillion.

Here we find another example of the class warfare being waged by Democrats to divide and conquer the populace. It doesn’t help that some of the wealthiest in our nation stick their hands out and virtually steal from those truly in need, and those of us paying the bill to help those in need.

The corruption in our government is monumental, and I fear fatal to our Republic. There is no need for anyone in America to go to bed hungry. Some choose to do so because they are lazy, and content looking for a constant handout. Many more are victims of the corruption in Washington D. C. How many people have lost jobs due to the tax burdens on small business owners, or even giant corporations, tax liabilities that caused them to have to lay workers off? How many homes have been lost due to pay cuts people had to take to keep the job they had in this economy?

The sad tale of this is that it isn’t only Obama and it isn’t only Democrats. If you will look at the report put out by Senator Coburn you will find some of this goes back to 2004, a time when Republicans owned the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. This isn’t a partisan problem, it is a systemic problem. Greedy people empowered by greedy politicians to take advantage of those with no influence, no money, and no voice in government.
This link to CBS News mentions Scottie Pippen, Ted Turner, John Bon Jovi, Quincy Jones, and Bruce Springsteen.

This next link adds Maurice Wilder, a real-estate developer and part owner of a professional sports franchise to the list.

Go to this link and get page after page of stories on this.

This is revolting at the very least. Common people work hard and barely exist while the political class and some of the ultra-wealthy literally steal food out of the mouths of starving children. Some may disagree with my terminology but what else can one call this action?

This is not what our founding fathers, with the protection of Divine Providence, created. Our founding fathers created a nation where everyone has an equal chance to prosper but it has been perverted through greed and corruption. The unions pay Democrats for favorable legislation every day and now we find out that they are only the tip of the iceberg.

How will our nation survive if we continue this? Both political parties take from the poor and give to the rich. Isn’t this the story behind Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, evil rulers taking from peasants for themselves and their friends? We need a modern day Robin Hood, a man like John Dummett and a band of merry men recruited by Tim Cox of GOOOH. If we elect the same rogues gallery that has been running things in Washington we can expect the same results we have seen in this report by Senator Coburn.

We are in dire need of patriots to run for office and patriots to have the courage to vote out those who have created this situation. The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing and expecting different results, or in this case, electing the same corrupt politicians and expecting different results.

I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.

Bob Russell
Claremore, Oklahoma
December 9, 2011