Farmers and ranchers take home just 11.4 cents from every dollar consumers spend on their Thanksgiving dinner meals, according to the annual Thanksgiving edition of the National Farmers Union's (NFU) "Farmer’s Share" publication. The Thanksgiving "Farmer’s Share" compares the retail food price of traditional holiday dinner items to the amount the farmer receives for each item they grow or raise.
“This holiday season, it’s important for us to take time to recognize and thank the family farmers and ranchers who provide our Thanksgiving meals,” said Rob Larew, NFU senior vice president for public policy and communications. “If you don’t live on a farm or work in agriculture, you probably don’t realize the tremendous difference between the price you pay for food at the grocery store and the prices farmers end up receiving for these products. While consumer holiday food costs have declined recently, incomes for American farm and ranch families have dropped precipitously. We’re in the midst of the worst farm economic downturn in 30-40 years, and we’re hopeful these numbers can help illustrate that fact to the general public.”
On average, farmers receive 17.4 cents of every food dollar consumers spend, while more than 80% of food costs cover marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing. For the 15 items NFU tracks for the Thanksgiving version, farmers received just 11.4 cents of the retail food dollar.
Turkey growers, who raise the staple Thanksgiving dish, received just 5 cents/lb. for the birds retailing at $1.69/lb. Wheat farmers received an average of a meager 6 cents from 12 dinner rolls that retail for $3.49. Dairy producers received $1.47 from a $4.49 gal. of fat-free milk.
Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to raise awareness about food production, including misconceptions about food costs, Larew 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,” he said.
NFU's "Farmers’ Share" is based on calculations derived from the monthly "Agricultural Prices" report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service that are compared to price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket. The farmer’s share of retail turkey sales figure is reported by the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, as national data on farm prices for turkey do not reflect the amount turkey growers receive.
The Thanksgiving "Farmers’ Share" can be viewed and downloaded here.