Farmers: Don't blame us for price jumps
One of farmers’ longstanding complaints is that they’re often blamed unfairly for rising food prices.
Now, two separate reports from the U.S. government show consumers are paying more for food, even as farmers receive less for what they produce.
A third set of numbers, from the National Farmers Union, shows farmers receive less than 20 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food.
"Consumers should be demanding more accountability from grocery manufacturers," said Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union. "It’s kind of amazing they blame the farmer for increasing food prices, when farmers are getting less. Consumers enjoy safe, affordable food, but farmers don’t control the price."
Overall, U.S. food prices rose 0.4 percent from June to July, with all six major grocery store food groups showing increases, according to monthly U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in turn, said farmers received 3.6 percent less for their products in July than in June. Though livestock prices have risen, crop prices have declined, more than offsetting the higher livestock prices paid to ag producers.
Consumers paid $100.40 in July for food that cost them $100 in June, while farmers received $96.40 in July for ag products that had brought them $100 in June.
Peterson notes that farmers are paying more for expenses, too.
USDA numbers confirm that, with the cost of expenses rising 0.9 percent from June to July. In other words, farmers paid $100.90 in July for products and services that cost them $100 a month earlier.
Since 2011, the cost of farmers’ expenses has risen 13 percent, USDA says.
Rising expenses and declining prices "don’t make a very good environment for making money," Peterson said.
Statistics from the National Farmers Union, derived from USDA numbers, show farmers receive about 15.8 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food. Off-farm costs, including marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing, account for the other 84.2 cents.
The Minnesota Farmers Union has publicized the "farmers’ share" of food sales for several years.
Here’s a look at farmers’ share of several popular food products:
A nickel from a six-pack of beer that retails for $5.99.
6 cents from an 18-ounce of box cereal that retails for $4.69.
6 cents from a 2-liter soda that retails for $1.49.
15 cents from 2 pounds of bread that retail for $2.19.
$1.26 from a pound of bacon that retails for $6.06.
$1.83 from a gallon of fat-free milk that retails for $4.69.
More information: www.nfu.org/farmers-share.