Conservatives see out-of-control spending, and many Republicans blame President Barack Obama. While seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, Newt Gingrich labeled Obama the “food stamp president.” Some of the growth can be attributed to Obama’s food stamp policies, but Congress’ budget analysts blame most of it on the economy. The big factors: The SNAP program is an entitlement, meaning everyone who is eligible can get aid, no matter the cost to taxpayers. Millions of jobs were lost in the recession that hit in 2007. Unemployment is still high, and many people who have jobs are working fewer hours or for lower pay than before, meaning more people are eligible. Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus temporarily increased benefit amounts; that boost is set to expire on Nov. 1. Time limits for jobless adults without dependents are still being waived in most of the country. Food stamp eligibility requirements were loosened by Congress in 2002 and 2008, before Obama became president. Fluctuating food prices have driven up monthly benefit amounts, which are based on a low-cost diet. Fewer to feed? The number of people using food stamps appears to be leveling off this year, and long-term budget projections suggest the number will begin to fall as the economy improves.
Food exports to the UAE set to grow
The EDC says that consistent, double-digit growth has vaulted the UAE into its top ten emerging markets. According to Statistics Canada, the value of Canadian agri-food and seafood exports to the UAE grew at a rate of 28 per cent each year from 2003 to 2012. In 2012, this value reached $520 million (about Dh1.9 billion), representing 63 per cent of Canadas total agri-food exports to the GCC countries. In the past two years, the fastest-growing Canadian opportunities in the UAE food service sector have been in beef, lobsters and scallops. Organic products and processed food including gluten-free and natural products are also on the list. A year ago, the UAE re-opened its doors to Canadian beef, and beef producers have been benefitting from full market access. While export performance across Canadas different provinces is not always even, Alberta definitely seems keen on the UAE. According to a report from International Relations and Marketing Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Albertas agri-food exports to the UAE were valued at $173 million in 2012. Top products included canola seed, wheat, dried peas and barley. Last year, Saskatchewan retained its position as the top agri-food exporter in Canada and it too ranks the UAE as one of the top ten destinations for agricultural products. It is to be noted that Canadian food products are not only consumed in the UAE, but approximately 35 per cent is also re-exported to other destinations, from Russia to East Africa.