Farmers Losing Grip on American Food Dollar

Published online: May 20, 2019 News
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Source: Growing Produce

According to a report recently released by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. farmers and ranchers earn just 14.6 cents for every dollar American consumers spend on food. This value marks a 17 percent drop since 2011 and marks the smallest portion of the American food dollar that farmers have received since the USDA began reporting this data in 1993. The remaining 85.4 cents cover off-farm costs, including processing, wholesaling, distribution, marketing and retailing.

“Even though family farmers and ranchers are more productive today than they have ever been, they’re taking home a smaller and smaller portion of the American food dollar. This one data point doesn’t paint the full picture of the farm economy, but when considered in the context of depressed commodity prices, plummeting incomes, rising input costs, and deteriorating credit conditions, it is certainly clear that we are in the midst of an agricultural financial crisis,” National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said in a statement. “Conditions for farmers have been eroding since 2011, and there’s only so much longer they can hold on. Many have already made the heartbreaking decision to close up shop; in just the past five years, the United States lost upward of 70,000 farm operations. As a country with a growing population and growing nutritional needs, we can’t afford to lose many more. We sincerely hope this startling report will open policymakers’ eyes to the financial challenges family farmers and ranchers endure on a daily basis and convince them to provide the support they so desperately need.”