I've been irritated for years about the constant hammering that - thanks to us - consumers only spend 10% of their income on food.
First of all it uses AVERAGE income, which most economists think distorts the picture since nearly 2/3 of Americans earn LESS than average income.
Second, food prices are not determined for the most part by subsidized corn, wheat, etc. and when the are they are in the wrong way: dairy, sugar.
Finally, the poor (who farmers don't like to talk about much) face the problem of inelastic demand.
The financial restraints on lower-income consumers mean they have less flexibility when food and energy prices climb. Families making $15,000 to $20,000 a year use 19 percent of their after-tax income for food and those earning $20,000 to $30,000 typically use 18 percent, compared with 8 percent for families earning more than $70,000 annually, according to the Labor Department's 2009 Consumer Expenditures Survey, released October 2010. [More]Income inequality is getting worse, so these extremes will be widening. At this rate, farmers will be talking about how lucky consumers making over $200,000 are to have our farm program, while not looking at the other 80%.
While these inequalities are not the fault of agriculture, exploiting them deceptively for self-promotion is - as my father would put it - sharp practice.
We really, really need to know more about who we serve. And care a little more.