There are often issues that we can consider as controversial or debatable. Each week Dr. David Mielke presents one of these issues to give you Something to Think About. The topic for today is "Snapped!" US regulators are pushing stricter rules for stores that accept food stamps. By year's end, the Agriculture Department wants to adopt rules that require stores redeeming food stamps to stock a wider variety of meats and vegetables and sell fewer hot meals, like pizza. The aim is to increase access to healthy food for low income people. Do we need more regulations to influence eating habits? Will the regulations actually have that effect? Will the regulations hurt small retailers to the benefit of large retailers such as Walmart, Meijers and Kroger?
David looks at some issues:
1. The overhaul of the $74 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, it’s impact on convenience stores, quick stops and pharmacies
2. At a time when sales growth is slow, redeeming food stamps is critical for retailers. A look at sales impact.
3. Some 195,000 small stores would have to add dozens of new items in multiple quantities to meet the new requirements.
4. The USDA's proposal more than doubles the varieties of meats, dairy products, breads, fruits and vegetables that SNAP retailers have to stock.
5. The USDA suggests that stores add shrimp, lamb or tofu to reach the higher bar, but convenience store owners say those aren't foods their customers want or can afford. Other USDA recommendations.
6. More than 45 million people received SNAP funds last year. How much and how that compares to 1969.
7. About 265,000 stores redeem food stamps. Trends from the first half of this decade.
8. 7-Eleven said many of its 8,000 US locations would be kicked out of the SNAP system, based on hot food sales. The status for Wal*Mart.
9. Resulting letters of concern to the USDA.
Are the proposed USDA requirements an example of government overreach? Will consumers alter their eating habits? Have other Obama administration efforts to change food choices been successful--think about the waste in the school lunch mandates. What is the potential economic damage to the many corner store retailers and small business owners from the changes? Will shoppers at Walmart actually choose shrimp, lamb and tofu instead of hot pizza? Should Congress pass bipartisan legislation to stop the USDA from one more move to dictate American's lives? Is this one more example of how this administration has "Snapped?"
What do you think? Something to think about.
That’s it---Something to Think About. Thank you for listening. This is Dave Mielke your host for the Week in Review for July 11, 2016 on the Michigan Business Network.
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