4th of July Feast from America’s Farmland

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture Jun 28th, 2017

Credit: Brad Holt / CC BY 2.0 

By Shiloh Perry

Fourth of July is just around the corner, along with its parades, barbeque, watermelon and all things red, white and blue. As friends and neighbors come together to reflect on our country’s rich heritage and celebrate our freedoms, there will no doubt be some hearty American-grown food within reach.  What better way to celebrate our country than with an American-grown cookout, brought to us by America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers?

Whether your favorite treat from the picnic table is a fresh slice of watermelon or a hot-off-the grill burger, you can thank a farmer for the affordable feast before you. Lucky for you, the average summer cookout still comes in under $6 per person, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s informal summer cookout survey. The cost for feeding 10 people is $55.70 this summer, a slight decrease from last year’s total of $56.06.

AFBF‘s summer menu includes 14 popular food items you would find at a cookout, including pork spare ribs, hot dogs, baked beans, watermelon and lemonade. It evaluates the costs of popular food items, year-to-year price trends for these items, and how the prices change over time. 

Whether your favorite treat from the picnic table is a fresh slice of watermelon or a hot-off-the grill burger, you can thank a farmer for the affordable feast before you.

AFBF found that, overall, retail prices have decreased. Specifically, lower-priced pork spare ribs and American cheese contributed to the 14 cent decline of the total price of this year’s cookout.

“As expected, retail meat prices continue to come down in price and are more affordable this year,” AFBF economist John Newton said. “Retail pork prices declined in 2017, largely due to more pork on the market and ample supplies of other animal proteins available for domestic consumption. The retail price of American cheese has declined due to very large inventories and a lot of competition in the cheese case.”

The summer cookout survey results are consistent with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food consumed at home. This year’s results also clearly show that America’s farmers and ranchers continue to provide a safe, stable and affordable food supply for their fellow Americans and the world.

Whether you have plans in your hometown or our nation’s capital, it is important to take a minute to also celebrate American agriculture this Independence Day. Farmers and ranchers grow the food, fiber and fuel sources we all depend on and enjoy, and contribute to our country’s well-being and success. American farms and ranches help drive the U.S. economy, with 11 percent of U.S. employment tied to the agriculture and food industry. Thanks to innovative farming practices, farmers are more efficient and sustainable in their work. Today’s farmers produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950. That is definitely worth celebrating.

The summer cookout survey is part of AFBF’s marketbasket price survey series conducted annually. The marketbasket series also includes the popular Thanksgiving dinner cost survey along with two additional quarterly surveys of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home. Check out the full survey results of the 2017 Summer Cookout Marketbasket survey here

Shiloh Perry
Communications Assistant, AFBF

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Credit: USDA, CC BY 2.0  

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