Business

USDA program looks to add more slices to your life

A Department of Agriculture fee levied on milk benefits pizza makers, which use one-quarter of the nation’s cheese. Critics say the department does not do nearly as much to promote the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables.
A Department of Agriculture fee levied on milk benefits pizza makers, which use one-quarter of the nation’s cheese. Critics say the department does not do nearly as much to promote the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables.Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images/FIle 2011

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It’s no secret that Americans eat a lot of pizza. In fact, around 13 percent of the country is eating a slice or two on any given day, according to a recent report from the Agriculture Department.

Pizza is popular because it’s delicious. But it isn’t entirely a free-market story. ‘‘In recent years, [the USDA] has spent many millions of dollars to increase pizza consumption among US children and adults,’’ Parke Wilde of Tufts University wrote on his blog.

He’s referring to the ‘‘dairy checkoff program,’’ which levies a small fee on milk and raised about $202 million in 2011. The agency uses that money to promote products such as milk and cheese. And, it turns out, pizza.

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