The average American household is spending $3,820 less for food each year in comparison to their counterparts around the world.

A study commissioned by the California Farm Water Coalition compared spending habits of American households with those in 28 high-income countries across the globe.  U.S. households spent approximately $5,945, or 6.2 percent, of their disposable income on food and non-alcoholic beverages each year.  That number climbed to $9,765, representing 10.2 percent for foreign incomes.

"Our farmers are playing a pivotal role in keeping food costs down for families worldwide and especially here in California," said Mike Wade, the Coalition's Executive Director. 

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Water Resources, California farmers have increased their production by 89 percent from 1967 to 2000 while only using 2 percent more applied water per acre.

"How many acres a farmer plants is in direct response to market demands but when water supplies are reduced, then less acres are planted and the economic theory of supply and demand takes over for the consumers pocketbook," Wade explained.  "That is why a reliable supply of water is so important to our farmers."

Disposable Income
"On a percentage basis, households in high income countries are spending about 64 percent more on food and beverages compared to the U.S.," said Wade.

"Our families are saving almost $4,000 in food costs compared to others around the world," he added.  "If the cost for food went up, then that means there would be less money to spend on other items such as education, entertainment, recreation and more. "

Wade explained that farmers are increasing their water use efficiency with the introduction of increased technology, such as micro irrigation systems and even the use of satellites to monitor field conditions.

"California farmers are committed to providing a healthy and affordable food supply to consumers," said Wade.  "Without a reliable water supply then those efforts are in jeopardy.  That is why California's water infrastructure and conveyance systems must be modernized."

Worldwide Comparison
The economic study was conducted by Cardno ENTRIX of Sacramento and identified 28 countries with per capita incomes equaling at least $11,115, which represents 45 percent of the U.S. income level.  The countries included:  Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Data from the World Bank was used in selecting the countries.  All of the data from the foreign countries was converted to 2005 U.S. dollars. 

The California Farm Water Coalition is the only statewide, non-profit organization in California to focus solely on farm water issues.  Its volunteer membership accounts for 5.5-million irrigated acres in California.

Source: California Farm Water Coalition