Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. Domestic sales had fallen, and a survey of big pizza chain customers left the company tied for the worst tasting pies.
Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign.
Consumers devoured the cheesier pizza, and sales soared by double digits. “This partnership is clearly working,” Brandon Solano, the Domino’s vice president for brand innovation, said in a statement to The New York Times.
But as healthy as this pizza has been for Domino’s, one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories.
And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.
Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese.
Even as the broader economy falters amid signs of a weakening recovery, the nation’s agriculture sector is going strong, bolstered in part by a surge in exports, according to federal estimates of farm trade and income released on Tuesday.
The estimates confirm what economists have been saying for months: agriculture, which was generally not hit as hard by the recession as many other segments of the economy, remains a small bright spot going forward.
“We’re just having a robust rebound in the agricultural sector and promises of more growth,” Jason R. Henderson, vice president and economist at the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said in a recent interview.
The estimates show that American farmers will ship $107.5 billion in agricultural products abroad in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. That is the second-highest amount ever, behind the record $115.3 billion in exports logged in 2008, when commodity prices soared as the global demand for agricultural products was helped by fast-growing economies in the developing world.
Maine is the State with the largest number of acres owned by foreign persons.
Hawaii (9.3 percent) and Alabama (3.9 percent) follow Maine in percentage of foreign ownership. Kansas and Missouri possess foreign agricultural land ownership percentages of only .1 and .2 percent respectively.
Foreign investors who buy, sell or hold a direct or indirect interest in agricultural lands in the United States are required under the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act to report their holdings and transactions to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated the responsibility for collecting this information to the Farm Service Agency.
Foreigner investors buying or selling land must report such transactions within 90 days of the date of the sale. Failure to file an accurate or timely report can result in a penalty with fines up to 25 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land.