While American consumers are enjoyed an abundant choice and supply of foods for the recent Thanksgiving holiday and will again for the upcoming holidays, only a small portion of what they're paying for those foods gets into the pockets of the farmers who grew them.
In its latest publication of a chart of the retail prices and the farmer's share of those retail prices for 15 staple foods, the Wisconsin Farmers Union notes that the average farmer share of the retail dollar was 15.8 cents while processing, wholesaling, distribution, marketing, and retailing accounted for more than 80 cents of the balance.
The figures, which cover food consumed at home and away from home, are obtained from the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retail prices are tracked at the Safeway supermarkets which are most prominent in the South. For the latest survey, most of the numbers reflect September prices while a few are drawn from August and March of 2013.
According to the latest numbers, farmers were faring best with their shares of $1.70 on the $4.69 retail price of a fat-free gallon of milk, $1.53 on the $4.39 retail cost of five pounds of fresh carrots, $1.03 from the $2.79 for a two-pound head of lettuce, $1.04 on $3.09 for a dozen eggs.
At the low end of the scale, farmer shares were 8 cents of the $4.19 for an 18-ounce box of cereal, 20 cents of the $4.29 for 10.5 ounces of potato chips, 5 cents on a $5.99 six-pack of beer, 16 cents on the $2.69 for a pound of bread, and 9 cents of the $1.49 for a two-liter bottle of soda.
Among the meats, the farmer shares 93 cents of the $6.06 for one pound of bacon, $1.98 of the $7.99 for one pound of top sirloin steak, and 93 cents of the $3.99 for one pound of boneless ham.
For the other items in the survey, the average farmer portions were 98 cents of the $5.49 for five pounds of Russet potatoes, 58 cents for the $2.99 for one pound of fresh tomatoes, and 80 cents of the retail price of $3.49 for five pounds of flour.
Most of the retail prices indicated in the survey tend to be higher than those on average in most Wisconsin supermarkets. They also do not reflect price specials or dollar minimum level combination prices sometimes associated with a few of the foods included in the survey.