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Farmers Receive Less Than 20% of Thanksgiving Retail Food Dollar

by Whitney Flach

Thanksgiving costs for consumers have declined, but farmers still receive less than 20% 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.

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 19.4 cents of the retail food dollar.

Turkey growers, receive about 89 cents per pound retailing at $1.59. Wheat farmers averaged 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.

Roger Johnson, president of NFU said, “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.”


Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to raise awareness about food production, including misconceptions about food costs. “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,” Johnson said.