By watching and reading the news, many people are coming to believe that farmers today are making a killing at their expense. News articles attribute higher food costs to rising commodity prices while blogs offer suggestions to help cash strapped consumers stick to their food budget. It seems logical, given these sources, that people looking for a scapegoat would turn to the image they associate most closely with food: the farmer.
While the logic seems to be there, the facts do not back up this argument. Actually, only a small portion of the money a shopper pays in the grocery checkout line ends up in a farmer’s pocket. The average box of corn flakes contains only a dime’s worth of corn. A two-liter bottle of soda contains only 12 cents’ worth. Upset over rising poultry and beef prices? Only 33 cents per pound of the price of each can be attributed to corn. In reality, even at $7 per bushel, corn accounts for only a small fraction of the total price consumers pay for food.
So why are prices on the rise? Like many economic situations, a variety of factors account for differing portions of rising food costs. Transportation costs have risen significantly as oil and gasoline prices rocketed skyward. Increased competition pushes manufacturers to undertake expensive marketing campaigns. Some high-end grocery retailers even report record profits. Together, these factors account for a majority of cost increases. Notably, the actual farmers growing the food do not profit from any of these factors.
Instead of blaming farmers, realize that they work incredible hours, often in inclement weather or late into the night, to produce the food for families in the U.S. and around the world. Ninety percent of U.S. corn farms are run by families. They face the same challenges and share the same values as the families relying on them. U.S. farmers deserve to be respected for their amazing contribution not scapegoated by the media to hide where consumers’ food dollars actually go.