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EU — Organic production and labelling of organic products

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Organic production and labelling of organic products
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal which was adopted on 24 March 2014.

The general problem identified is that the overall objective of the current EU political and legislative framework to ensure the sustainable development of organic production, is not being met. Over the last ten years, the organic market has been characterised by dynamic development driven by strong growth in demand. The global market for organic food expanded fourfold between 1999 and 2011, yet the area under organic production in the EU only doubled in the decade 2000-2010. According to the IA, neither internal supply, nor the legislative framework, has kept up with this market expansion, resulting in lost opportunities for EU producers. Moreover, the IA considers that the continued growth of the organic market might itself be at threat from possible erosion of consumer confidence, due to the watering down of some EU organic production rules, with excessive use of exceptions, and cases of fraud in the control system and the import regime. In addition, the development of private schemes has led to confusion, with a multiplication of logos competing with the EU organic logo. The entire regulatory framework is extremely complex and difficult to understand for operators, producers, consumers and public authorities, and will become more so with the foreseen implementation of a compliance regime for control bodies in non-recognised third countries from 2014. There is significant administrative burden linked notably to the management of the exceptions by national administrations and to the control of business operators.

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Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Cost Containment in the WIC Program: Vendor Peer Groups and Reimbursement Rates
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This study looks at current WIC cost containment strategies in an effort to make them more effective, enabling the program to serve more participants with its fixed budget resources.

New From the GAO

August 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Enhanced Detection Tools and Reporting Could Improve Efforts to Combat Recipient Fraud. GAO-14-641, August 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-641
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665382.pdf

The Role of the Informal Economy in Addressing Urban Food Insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa

August 20, 2014 Comments off

The Role of the Informal Economy in Addressing Urban Food Insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa
Source: Centre for International Governance Innovation

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is facing high rates of urbanization and increasing food insecurity. The informal food economy addresses food insecurity by providing access to affordable food and significant employment opportunities to the urban poor in the SSA. The authors of the latest installment of the Junior Fellows Policy Brief Series state that different policy approaches need to be taken into account to address the diverse needs of the informal food economy, including the needs of “survivalist” traders, larger constrained enterprises and female vendors. They recommend that there should be a targeted social protection scheme for survivalists in the informal economy; informal-sector policies should consider the structural barriers women face in the informal sector; budgets for municipal governments should be increased; and government officials should consider policies to create an enabling environment for informal-sector enterprises facing constraints to growth.

Slim by Design: Serving Healthy Foods First in Buffet Lines Improves Overall Meal Selection

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Slim by Design: Serving Healthy Foods First in Buffet Lines Improves Overall Meal Selection
Source: PLoS ONE

Objective
Each day, tens of millions of restaurant goers, conference attendees, college students, military personnel, and school children serve themselves at buffets – many being all-you-can-eat buffets. Knowing how the food order at a buffet triggers what a person selects could be useful in guiding diners to make healthier selections.

Method
The breakfast food selections of 124 health conference attendees were tallied at two separate seven-item buffet lines (which included cheesy eggs, potatoes, bacon, cinnamon rolls, low-fat granola, low-fat yogurt, and fruit). The food order between the two lines was reversed (least healthy to most healthy, and vise-versa). Participants were randomly assigned to choose their meal from one line or the other, and researchers recorded what participants selected.

Results
With buffet foods, the first ones seen are the ones most selected. Over 75% of diners selected the first food they saw, and the first three foods a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66% of all the foods they took. Serving the less healthy foods first led diners to take 31% more total food items (p<0.001). Indeed, diners in this line more frequently chose less healthy foods in combinations, such as cheesy eggs and bacon (r = 0.47; p<0.001) or cheesy eggs and fried potatoes (r = 0.37; p<0.001). This co-selection of healthier foods was less common.

Conclusions
Three words summarize these results: First foods most. What ends up on a buffet diner’s plate is dramatically determined by the presentation order of food. Rearranging food order from healthiest to least healthy can nudge unknowing or even resistant diners toward a healthier meal, helping make them slim by design. Health-conscious diners, can proactively start at the healthier end of the line, and this same basic principle of “first foods most” may be relevant in other contexts – such as when serving or passing food at family dinners.

Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods

August 18, 2014 Comments off

Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods
Source: Gallup

A little less than half of Americans, 45%, actively try to include organic foods in their diets, while 15% actively avoid them. More than a third, 38%, say they “don’t think either way” about organic foods.

CRS — Specialty Crop Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79) (July 10, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Specialty Crop Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79) (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

U.S. farmers grow more than 350 types of fruit, vegetable, tree nut, flower, nursery, and other horticultural crops in addition to the major bulk commodity crops. Specialty crops, defined in statute as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture)” (P.L. 108-465; 7 U.S.C. §1621 note) comprise a major part of U.S. agriculture. In 2012, the value of farm-level specialty crop production totaled nearly $60 billion, representing about one-fourth of the value of U.S. crop production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that retail sales of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables for athome consumption total nearly $100 billion annually. Exports of U.S. specialty crops totaled about $14 billion in 2013, or about 10% of total U.S. agricultural exports.

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