The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table revealed the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04. The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.65 this year. That’s roughly $1.35 per pound, a decrease of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2013.
Although turkey production was somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, there are plenty of birds for shoppers to choose from for their special Thanksgiving meal. Some grocers use turkeys as “loss leaders” to entice shoppers to come through the doors and buy other popular Thanksgiving foods, which is why retail prices tend to dip lower the closer we get to the holiday.
With all the emphasis on special holiday meals this time of year, it’s natural to spend some time reflecting on the “farm to fork” dynamic.
“America’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to continuously improving the way they grow food for our tables, both for everyday meals and special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” says John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist.
Darrell Glaser, manager of Bar G Ranch in Texas, is a turkey farmer who feels it’s important to tell the story of what he does on his farm, which has been in operation for 80 years.
Glaser and his family raise 600,000 turkeys each year and maintain a beef cattle herd of 200 mother cows. They are careful managers of the family farm, integrating turkey and beef cattle raising with an eye toward sustainability. They strive to use the farm’s natural resources to produce meat and poultry for consumers in the most productive, cost-efficient manner possible. It’s a combination that has worked well for more than 20 years. Glaser’s 71-year-old mother still works on the farm along with Glaser, his wife and their four sons.
“Consumers are becoming more and more concerned about where their food supply comes from, how it’s handled and how it’s raised,” Glaser says.
He sees a role for agriculture in helping consumers understand what farmers do and why, which is why he threw his hat in the ring as a contender for the “Faces of Farming & Ranching” program coordinated by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. In mid-November, Glaser was named one of the new “Faces of Farming & Ranching” and begins a two-year stint to help put real faces on agriculture. He’s also a Farm Bureau member in Texas and was honored by the organization as Outstanding Young Farmer/Rancher in 1999.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and celebrate our blessings, let’s be thankful for a bountiful feast and for the many hardworking American farmers who make it possible.