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USDA'S REPORT TO CONSUM
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICE OF INFORMATION WASHINGTON, D.C.
December 1966 No. 36
CONSUMER OUTLOOK FOR 1967
The Food Situation. Economists at the U.S. Department of Ag-
riculture say the cost of food, like the cost of most other
things, will continue to edge upward in 1967. The increase
will not, however, match the price increases of 1966.
Reduced beef supplies will more than likely mean higher beef
prices, particularly after midyear. Dairy prices probably
will increase further, and consumers can expect another rise
in the price of cereal and bakery products. Fats and oils,
too, may cost more; potato prices should remain about the
same. On the bright side for consumers, the forecast is for
generous supplies of pork, poultry and eggs--meaning lower
prices for these items. Citrus fruits, too, should be less
expensive in 1967.
Home Furnishings. High incomes which are expected to go
higher...unemployment kept low by military calls...and more
new families formed by post-World War II babies now of mar-
riage age... These three factors will keep the demand for
home furnishings and equipment high through 1967. Increased
I'abor charges and higher prices for raw materials--copper,
aluminum, steel and wood--will further add to the price of
home furnishings. Shoppers can expect to see higher price
tags on furniture (about 4 percent more) and major appliances
(3 percent). Television consoles will also cost more in '67.
Only soft goods home furnishings (draperies, slipcovers and
rugs) so far show no indication of price rises--but they, too,
may be affected by the rise in labor costs, USDA economists
Clothing. In the market for a man's suit? Buy it now.
Prices of some suits are expected to increase next spring by
as much as $5. By next fall increases may be fairly wide-
spread--with a maximum increase of 5 percent. The price of
shoes, too, is expected to advance next spring--another 3 to
5 percent. This increase probably won't be in all lines but
on a selective basis--such as children's lines and top quality
adult dress shoes. The boost in both shoe and clothing costs
is due largely to increases in labor and other production costs.
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It's Papa Who Pays. Having a baby? You'll end up paying as much for him as your
house. To raise a farm child from birth to age 18 costs anywhere from $13,000 to
$27,000,reports Lucile F. Mork, family economist at the U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture. Which figure applies to your family depends upon how fancy you feed and clothe
the child, where you live (North or South), and how many brothers and sisters he
may have. Using 1961 cost figures--the result of the latest consumer expenditure
survey--USDA statisticians included everything from medical care to transportation.
The lowest figure was for a low-income farm child in the South; the high of $27,000
was for a child raised on a prosperous farm in either North or South.
AID FOR THE NEEDY
Extended Credit. Hard-pressed rural people who want to improve their homes or start
small businesses are now eligible for a revolving credit plan that gives them a
chance to borrow as they repay. This new weapon in the war on poverty has been made
possible under an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act. Loans are made by the
Department of Agriculture to persons living in rural areas who cannot get capital
from conventional credit sources. Up to now, there's been a loan limit of $2,500.
Under the new provision, a needy person can get credit up to $3,500. And--he can
borrow again before the loan is paid back, so long as he keeps up his payments and
never lets his total indebtedness exceed $3,500.
To Stamp Out Poor Diets. With a pat on the back from President Johnson, USDA's Food
Stamp Program went into its sixth year of operation with 324 areas in 40 States and
the District of Columbia participating. Some 1.2 million needy people received food
coupons worth $174 million in fiscal 1966. Of this, $65 million was donated by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture to help Food Stamp families buy more and better food.
Under the Program, needy families put up the amount of money they would normally
spend for food to buy coupons worth more than they pay. They then spend the coupons,
like money, at local retail food stores. Studies show that people using food stamp
coupons buy more meat, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products--foods needed for
growth and health--than they did without the stamps.
Bountiful Market Basket. Needy families, charitable institutions and schools from
coast to coast received about 1.5 billion pounds of food last year from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. In addition, the Department helped feed victims of
Hurricane Betsy in the Gulf Coast States and the typhoon last January in American
Samoa. The food was acquired by USDA through its price-support activities. It was
distributed in cooperation with state and local governments and, in the case of
disasters, private relief agencies.
Needed: Greater Buying Skill. According to the National Commission on Food Market-
ing, the poor seem to be the least-skilled buyers and among the most readily influ-
enced by promotion. And here's where the government can help, G. E. Brandow, pro-
fessor of agricultural economics at Pennsylvania State University, told the 44th
Annual Agricultural Outlook Conference. As an aid not only to the poor, but to all
consumers, Professor Brandow urged the government to provide more adequate food
shopping information--grades, standards of identity, reasonable standards for labels
and packages. The government also must help educate consumers to be better-in-
formed food buyers, Professor Brandow said.
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Turkey Tip. Here's a helpful hint that will put the homemaker in the living room
a little sooner on Christmas day. U.S. Department of Agriculture food specialists
suggest cooking the stuffing separately, then roasting it the last hour that the
turkey cooks. For a moist stuffing, baste occasionally with pan drippings from the
roasting turkey. A turkey roasted without stuffing tastes just as good as a stuff-
ed turkey, USDA research shows.
Tree Test. Bounce it, whack it, sniff it. If the Christmas tree you select can
pass these tests--buy it. Choose a tree for its shape and size. But check before
you buy to be sure it's fresh, say USDA tree specialists. A quick bounce on the
frozen ground can give you the answer. The needles will fly if it's dry. Or take
a whack at the branches and see how well the needles hold. Then smell the tree.
A newly-cut tree will have that fresh-from-the-forest smell.
For More Fragrance. For a healthy, fire-resistant Christmas tree, keep your tree
well-watered, urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A 6-foot tree may take up
as much as a quart of water a day when first brought indoors. This water is needed
to replace the moisture given off by the needles in the warm atmosphere of your
home. And did you know? The more moisture the needles give off, the more fragrant
What's Plentiful? There's lots of good eating ahead for the family who follows the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plentiful Foods List for December. Food shops will
be full of broiler-fryers, canned salmon, grapes, raisins, pork and winter pears.
And here's what you can look forward to in January--oranges (they're the featured
item on the list), more pears and broiler-fryers, grapefruit, dry beans and green
Young People's Projects. Anyone who works with youth groups will be interested in
this recently revised booklet on "Forestry Activities" put out by the U.S. Depart-
ment of Agriculture. Designed as a guide for youth group leaders, the 32-page book-
let is filled with learn-and-do projects. Activities include making a model water-
shed, keeping Christmas trees fresh and safe, making and distributing litterbags,
working a conservation crossword puzzle. Ideal for Scouts, Campfire Girls, 4-H,
church and other groups from 8 to 18. Copies of this publication are free to group
leaders. Send a postcard to the Office of Information, U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Ask for PA-457.
Shoe Trends. Although there are now more than 25 substitutes for leather on the
market, leather is still the most popular item for shoe uppers. The trend in women's
shoes is toward a more masculine look. The "cossack" boot will continue to be popu-
lar this winter. Spring lines will feature more strap-type shoes and a more squared-
Stocking Up. How many pairs of hose does your wife or daughter wear each year?
According to home economists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average
female (15 years and older) purchases 19 pairs of full-length seamless nylons a year.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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THE FOOD WE EAT
Cholesterol and the College Girl. High-starch diet...high-sugar diet... It didn't
seem to make much difference in the cholesterol levels of a group of University of
Maryland women who recently participated in USDA diet tests. Earlier tests on men
had indicated high-,sugar dietsgo along with higher blood cholesterol levels.
We're Eating More. Rising food:costs haven't kept Americans from eating any less
food--report economists at the.U'S. Department of Agriculture. Per capital food
consumption so far in 1966 is up l percent over last year. The prediction is for
another small rise' in consumption in 1967. Which foods saw the biggest gains?
Poultry, beef, vegetfghle.o:4s' ,arid potatoes.
Big Break. A broken egg in a bag of groceries can be a big bother to the food shop-
per. But think what a disaster 1.8 billion broken eggs a year must be to egg pro-
ducers, packers and marketing men. In its search to find eggs with tougher shells,
USDA has developed a device that measures shell thickness--without breaking the egg.
Next comes the development of those breeds that lay rugged eggs.
THE HUNGRY WORLD
Another Helping. "The world food problem cannot be solved by increasing food aid.
The only permanent solution is by increasing agricultural productivity within the
developing Nations themselves." With these words, Dorothy Jacobson, Assistant Sec-
retary of Agriculture for International Affairs, emphasized the new self-help feature
of the Food for Freedom programs--to help hungry Nations feed themselves. We will
continue to give them food aid, she said. We will enrich and fortify commodities to
combat malnutrition. And we will urge other Nations to also come to the aid of these
countries. But the main objective will be to assist developing countries of the free
world to accelerate their own food production. The aim: Victory over hunger in
The Widening Gap. The world food situation is getting worse instead of better, say
USDA food-population experts. Two forces are at work reducing the chances of low-
income countries to feed their people. One is the exploding population, especially
in the hungry countries. The other is the rapid rise in per capital incomes in the
more advanced countries. For example, in a developing Nation, such as India, each
person uses about 400 pounds of grain a year. But as people with growing incomes
graduate to more high-protein diets of meat and eggs, such as in the U.S., they
consume 1,600 pounds of grain a year (counting the grain fed to the animals that
produce the food in their diet). These two forces make for a widening gap in the
diets between people of the "have" and "have-not" Nations.
Because of the vital information contained in this report (presented at a recent
conference on Alternatives for Balancing Future World Food Production and Needs),
we are offering copies free for local club programs. With the speech come 5 color-
ed chart slides pointing up the pertinent data. Both are available from the
Editor of Service; the slides on a loan basis.
SERVICE is a monthly newsletter of consumer interest. It is designed for those
who report to the individual consumer rather than for mass distribution. For
information about items in this issue, write: Jeanne S. Park, Editor, SERVICE,
Office of Information, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. 20250.
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