As Washington Debates, Some U.s. States Proceed With Food Stamps Cuts

The government has huge stocks of cereals, way above what it needs for its commitments under NFSA. At least 20 million tonnes of rice and wheat can be liquidated in the domestic market at pragmatic prices (wheat at Rs 1,400/quintal and rice at Rs 1,900/qtl). This will immediately bring food inflation to less than 8%, as cereals have the highest weight in food. Next, import duties on fruits and vegetables can be slashed to zero or 5%, from the current levels of 30% in most cases. In case of onions, government will have to import large quantities and distribute that in domestic markets at below market prices to break cartels of rent seekers, if there are any. But a more durable solution to perishable commodities lies in exempting them from the APMC Act, and encouraging more efficient value chains that connect farmer groups with processors and organised retailers. We have been too slow and timid in building these value chains. Processing is critical to stabilise prices of fresh perishable products. Even in case of onions, if the government gives priority to promote dehydrated chopped onions (given that onions have 80-85% water), they can be stored easily in large quantities for much longer, and consumers can easily switch to these when the prices of fresh onions go sky-high. This processing technology exists in India and some processors are already exporting dehydrated onions to countries like Japan. The government can keep some stocks of these to stabilise prices, whenever the need arises. Several other vegetables and fruits, eggs, meat and fish also need this processing. Our processing levels are generally less than 5% in most fresh products compared to 20-50% in south-east Asian economies. This is the biggest investment opportunity in transforming the food sector, creating millions of jobs in the rural non-farm sector, and connecting hinterlands with the fast growing middle class, while keeping food inflation below 4%. (Ashok Gulati is Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.

Enteric fermentation resulting when livestock consume food and excrete methane gas. Commonly, nitrous oxide seeps into the atmosphere because of the heavy usage of ammonia in fertilizers. The top three ammonia producers worldwide account for roughly one-fifth of the global market. They are, in order of total capacity,Yara (NASDAQOTH: YARIY ) , CF Industries (NYSE: CF ) , and PotashCorp (NYSE: POT ) . As far as meat is concerned, the Big Four American producers are, in order of market share,Tyson (NYSE: TSN ) , Cargill, JBS USA, and National Beef Packing. What it means for your investments For right now, the short answer is that this means absolutely nothing for your investments. Though I think population growth is a function of increased food production — and not the other way around — I’m very much in the minority. Knowing that, farmers and officials are likely to continue relying on fertilizers to prop up harvests for the foreseeable future. As far as meat consumption is concerned, the companies I mentioned may have a slightly different fate in the immediate future. While it is generally assumed consumption of meat will skyrocket as a result of the growing middle classes in Asia, the same isn’t likelythe case stateside. Though meat consumption won’t be dropping off a cliff, it is nearing a saturation point, and as the benefits of a diet light in meat become more well known, it may even fall. But if you’re the type of investor who likes to buy a stock and hold it for decades, the environmental degradation caused by fertilizers and livestock will eventually rear its head into the equation. There’s no way to tell if this will be a result of government action or changing consumer tastes, and it’s not possible to know if the change will come tomorrow or 20 years from now. Still, the fact remains that investors need to take this into consideration before buying any shares of a company contributing so much to global GHG emissions.

Food: The Key to Fixing Climate Change

Phyllis Gilmore, Secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, announced the work requirement in early September. In Oklahoma, a bill approved by state lawmakers earlier this year made the change. Both of those two states, as well as Wisconsin, have a Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature. Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon said the work requirement would help food stamp recipients to “break their addiction to government subsidies.” The change will affect about 20,000 Kansas residents, state officials said. Oklahoma Department of Human Services spokesman Mark Beutler said he was not sure how many people would be affected there. The changes have drawn criticism from some advocates for the poor and unemployed. “It’s the wrong thing to do,” said Louis Goseland, campaign director for Sunflower Community Action, based in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s not as though starving 20,000 people will do anything to change unemployment. It is punitive to the most vulnerable people in the state.” President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package in 2009 suspended the work requirement nationwide to help the growing number of unemployed during the recession. Even as the economy and job picture have improved, the waiver has remained in most states. Five states – Delaware, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming – have not used the waiver in recent years for a variety of reasons, according to a recent report by Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent public policy research group. The waiver still allows unemployed people to get food stamps, but only for three months within a 36-month period. That means in Kansas and Oklahoma some people will have three months from October 1 either to find a job or enroll in a federal job-training program.