Wednesday Roundup: Danish Chocolate Tax
• An economist says “community food enterprises” — locally-owned stores selling locally-produced goods — generate two to four times the jobs per dollar of sales as regular groceries. The report came from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in California.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to encourage these locally-oriented enterprises. “Studies show that farmers who sell locally and regionally employ 13 full-time workers per $1 million revenue earned,” said Kathleen Merrigan, a USDA official. “Farmers who don’t sell locally or regionally employ three workers for every $1 million in revenue earned.”
•A hedge fund jockey is putting his farm assets and “significant stakes” in biotech companies into a fund. The farmland is in Russia and Illinois.
• The country isn’t producing as much non-corn ethanol as expected, Dan Piller reports.
The hope was that ethanol could be made from stuff that couldn’t immediately be used as food — crop residue, grasses or wood chips. That production, however, has lagged, falling behind the goals set in 2007.
• Food stamp cards are refilled electronically at the very beginning of the new month. That fact has created a shopping phenomenon.
On the last day of each month, in the hour before midnight, stores start filling with people. They shop until midnight, when their food stamp cards are refilled, and then check out.
“It’s real interesting to watch,” said William Simon of Walmart. “About 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items … and mill about the store until midnight. Our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher. If you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it.”
• California is cutting transportation money for schools — which, of course, hurts rural schools more than urban. The state’s largest school district has sued to block the cuts.
• China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has said the country must give its rural residents a much larger share of profits seized for factories and housing.
Wen’s statement came after people in one rural town revolted against local authorities who had condoned land seizures.
“We should recognise that our country’s level of economic development has risen far, and we can no longer sacrifice farmers’ land property rights for the sake of lowering the costs of industrialisation and urbanisation,” said Wen. “We must, and also have the conditions to, dramatically increase the share of gains that goes to farmers from enhancing the value of land.”
• The Postal Regulatory Commission issued an advisory opinion on the Postal Service’s plan to close 3,652 post offices, finding that the plan was “not designed to optimize the retail network.”
According to the ever-useful SaveThePostOffice website, the opinion is just an opinion, but it does give weight to those who say the current plan is not the best approach.
• The New York Times is shedding its regional newspapers.
The Times Company sold 16 regional papers for $143 million in cash to Halifax Media of Daytona Beach, Florida. The papers include those in Gainesville and Sarasota, Florida, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.