Consumers’ holiday food costs have declined, but farmers still receive less than 20 percent of the food dollar, according to the annual Thanksgiving edition of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Farmer’s Share publication. The popular Thanksgiving Farmer’s Share compares the retail food price of traditional holiday dinner items to the amount the farmer receives for each item.
“It’s important to understand the difference between the price consumers pay for food at the grocery store or restaurant and the commodity prices farmers are paid for their products. Just recently food costs started to drop, but farm and ranch families have been plagued by low commodity prices for nearly three years,” said Roger Johnson, president of NFU. “Comparatively, the costs associated with the rest of the supply chain have a more pronounced effect on consumers’ food prices.”
On average, farmers receive 17.4 cents of every food dollar consumers spend, while more than 80 percent of food costs cover marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing. For the 15 items NFU tracks for the Thanksgiving version, farmers received 19.4 cents of the retail food dollar.
Turkey growers, who raise the staple Thanksgiving dish, receive about 89 cents per pound retailing at $1.59. Wheat farmers averaged a meager 4 cents on 12 dinner rolls that retail for $3.29. And dairy producers received only $1.44 for the $4.49 gallon of fat free milk.
Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to raise awareness about food production, including misconceptions about food costs, Johnson explained. “Farmers and ranchers play the most valuable role in actually producing the food that is served at holiday dinners, yet they make just pennies on the dollar for their products.”
The Farmers’ Share is based on calculations derived from the monthly Agriculture Prices report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compared to price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket.
The Thanksgiving Farmers’ Share can be viewed and downloaded here.