GRAPHIC: Americans spent less money on food during the pandemic

In a historic low, U.S. consumers spent 8.6% of their disposable income on food last year, a 10.1% decrease from 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of disposable income — the amount of money consumers have left after paying taxes — spent on food dropped from 17% to 9.9%. But for the last 20 years, the percentage had been steady, remaining around 10%.  

Consumers in 2019 spent an average of 9.58% of their income on food, with 4.94% going towards food cooked at home and 4.65% towards dining out. In 2020, Americans spent 1.4% more of their incomes on food at home and spent 22.2% less on eating out. An analysis by the USDA’s Environmental Research Service attributes the changes in food spending, in part, to coronavirus-related closures and restrictions, and to the largest annual increase in disposable personal income in 20 years due to additional government financial aid during the pandemic.

Trump ag secretary Sonny Perdue personally lobbied to keep meatpacking plants open during pandemic, emails show

It’s well-established that Trump administration officials wanted meatpacking plants to keep operating, often with industry pressure, as workers fell ill and died by the dozens. But new emails obtained by nonprofit Public Citizen show Perdue personally lobbying to keep plants open, including pressing Robert Redfield, the former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.

GRAPHIC: Acres in federal conservation program have decreased steadily in past decade

Since 2007, the number of acres the government has paid farmers and ranchers to conserve has declined. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program subsidizes the removal of environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production. But, between 2007 and 2016, the enrollment cap set by the farm bill shrank, allowing fewer farmers to participate, according to an agency report

GRAPHIC: Expect to pay more for food in 2021 – except for eggs

In 2020, the price of food rose more than 3% over the price the year before. This includes both food eaten out and food cooked at home, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Consumers saw the price of meat spike in 2020 as well with beef and veal prices increasing 9.6%, poultry prices increasing 5.6% and pork prices increasing 6.3%

Secret Subsidies: Payments to farms allowed to stretch far beyond rural America

Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are directed each year to the country’s farms to help keep agriculture afloat when times get tough. But the federal government is sending millions of these subsidy dollars in the names of people who live and work hundreds of miles from the farms that get the money.