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Celebrating Independence and Agriculture

Zippy Duvall

President

photo credit: AFBF Photo, Morgan Walker

The 4th of July is a highlight of the year on our family farm. Each summer, my family gets together for a traditional cookout, celebrating our nation with delicious food and the company of loved ones. This holiday serves as a reminder of the freedoms we enjoy, safeguarded by the dedication and sacrifice of countless Americans who have fought to protect our country. It also is a great time to look around the table and count the other blessings we enjoy in our great nation, such as having a plate filled with fresh, wholesome food.

Every year, the American Farm Bureau Federation, with the help of our volunteer shoppers around the country, calculates the average cost for a July 4th cookout. The survey includes popular items such as cheeseburgers, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad and desserts such as ice cream and cookies.

This year, it will cost about $71 to feed ten people, a 5% increase from last year. At a little more than $7 per person, that’s the highest cost since AFBF began its survey in 2013. It’s also a 30% increase in cost since the start of the pandemic in 2019. The increasing cost of food and supplies remains a real concern, not only here in the United States but across the world. Factors such as inflation, the rising of supply costs and global uncertainties continue to drive up prices, impacting households across the nation.

Farmers and ranchers across America work tirelessly every day to provide for my family and yours, and all Americans share an interest in protecting agriculture here at home.

Despite these challenges, most Americans on average still dedicate a relatively small percentage of their spending to food compared to many other countries. That’s thanks to the hard work of our farmers and the support they receive from the farm bill to manage risk and advance innovation. Even after the many challenges we’ve faced and continue to overcome in the past few years, our nation enjoys one of the world’s safest, most affordable food supplies.

There was also some good news found in the survey, as the price of chicken breasts and eggs are down due to the recovery of chicken populations from avian influenza in 2022. We also saw the prices of potatoes drop after reaching a market high last year because of drought.

So how do we continue to keep these prices affordable? The biggest answer is a new and modernized farm bill. From risk management to food security and nutrition programs — this critical legislation affects all Americans, and we need the many programs within this bill to reflect current challenges. A lot has changed since the 2018 farm bill and if we want to safeguard our food supply and ultimately reinforce our national security, then we need a new farm bill passed this year.

Addressing our trade deficit is also key to our food security and the economic sustainability of our farms and ranches. USDA has forecasted a record high trade deficit for agriculture, at $32 billion. If we want to continue to grow the safest and most sustainable food, and also keep food prices affordable for all families, we need to ensure that U.S. farmers can remain competitive here at home by expanding our trade agreements and keeping our current partners accountable.

Farmers and ranchers across America work tirelessly every day to provide for my family and yours, and all Americans share an interest in protecting agriculture here at home. It’s imperative that Congress and the administration get the farm bill across the finish line this year, and ensure the stability of American agriculture, because a nation that cannot feed itself cannot truly be free.

As we celebrate this 4th of July, and gather with loved ones around the grill, let’s remember to reflect on our blessings, the food on our plates and the privilege of living in a country where we can freely celebrate our freedom and abundance. Happy Independence Day!