> Focus On Agriculture

A Red, White and Blue Cookout for You

Guest Author

Special Contributor to FB.org

photo credit: AFBF Photo, Morgan Walker

Independence Day is a time for fireworks, cookouts and the chance to burst with patriotism. Wherever you may find yourself this Fourth of July--whether out on the lake, at a small gathering with family and friends, or braving the crowds at your local fireworks show--take a moment to appreciate all our nation has to offer, especially the food grown by our farmers and ranchers.

To celebrate our summer in agriculture, the American Farm Bureau Federation has conducted its annual survey evaluating the cost of popular food items found at a Fourth of July cookout. AFBF's informal price survey revealed this year's cost is $56.06, a mere 22-cent increase from last year's average of $55.84.

The summer cookout survey is part of Farm Bureau's marketbasket series, which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey and two additional quarterly surveys of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.

These surveys not only allow the opportunity to evaluate food price trends, but also explain why the change in price is occurring. For example in the summer cookout survey: "Prices in the meat case are starting to look better from the consumers' perspective," AFBF economist Veronica Nigh said. "Retail ground round prices are trending lower," she noted, pointing to the nation's cattle inventory and commercial beef production, which continues to rebound from dramatically low levels in 2014 and 2015.

Shifting food prices can spark an important conversation--giving farmers and ranchers the chance to explain to consumers how food is produced and how they care for their land and animals throughout the process. Learning more about the farmers and ranchers who grow our nation's food supply is just as important as learning how that food is raised.

The year-to-year direction of the market basket survey tracks closely with the federal government's Consumer Price Index report for food at home. But as retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America's farm and ranch families receive has dropped

"Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditure for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 17 percent", according to the Agriculture Department's revised Food Dollar series.

To put this into perspective, from this $56.06 summer marketbasket farmers would receive just $9.53. So as we turn on the grill to celebrate our nation's independence, take time to thank a farmer or rancher for providing the meat to grill, the fruit to munch on, and the chocolate milk to drink.

If you're interested in the latest marketbasket survey, you can find the 2016 Summer Cookout marketbasket survey results at here.

Katie Heger, dedicated advocate for agriculture, blogs at hegerfamilyfarms.wordpress.com and shares at Heger Farms on Facebook. Katie and her husband farm corn, soybeans and wheat in central North Dakota.