The cost of a Thanksgiving meal this year was the lowest in a decade. But the share of those costs going to farmers also was down.
Every year, American Farm Bureau Federation puts together a survey that shows the cost of a typical Thanksgiving meal. And every year, National Farmers Union puts together a survey showing the amount of money ag producers get from typical Thanksgiving menu items. The two menus aren’t identical but are similar.
"The average price of the Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings, including stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie came in at $46.90, that was down 4% from last year and the lowest that we've seen since 2010,” said John Newton, AFBF chief economist.
The only increases were in the price of bread and stuffing, but that was offset by the centerpiece of the meal.
"This year the turkey price came in at $1.21 per pound that was down 7% from last year, and that helps to make this meal so affordable," Newton said.
That likely was welcome news, with more Americans cooking at home this Thanksgiving.
"Give thanks for what's been a pretty tough year and hopefully brighter year in front of us," Newton said.
While the lower price is a good thing for consumers, it also means less going to farmers. In its annual report on the “farmer’s share” of Thanksgiving dinner, National Farmers Union noted farmers would earn approximately 11.9 cents from the average family’s Thanksgiving dinner in 2020, down from 12.15 cents in 2019.
The Farmers Union release notes that prices for agricultural commodities have mostly recovered after dropping early in the coronavirus pandemic. Grocery prices overall have risen, the organization said, but that doesn’t mean farmers are getting more. Instead, the increases go to processors, packers, distributors, and retailers.
In a statement, Farmers Union President Rob Larew said the meat sector shows the most disparity. Retail beef prices have increased more than 10% over the past 12 months, while ranchers are receiving about the same amount for cattle. He blames lax enforcement of anti-trust laws governing the meat processing sector.
“The key to ensuring farmers a fair price isn’t charging consumers astronomical prices – it’s breaking up these companies and restoring competition to the market,” he said.
Farmers Union bases its calculations on the monthly Agriculture Prices report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket. The farmer’s share of retail turkey sales is reported by the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, as national data on farm prices for turkey does not reflect the amount turkey growers receive.