Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Farmer's Share

I received this very eye-opening link in my email box this morning from the National Farmer's Union (NFU). Did you know that farmers and ranchers receive only 20 cents of every food dollar that consumers spend on food at home and away from home?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, off farm costs including marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution, and retailing account for 80 cents of every food dollar spent in the United States.

Here's what they found farmers received for some goods:

Fresh Carrots (2 pounds): Retail, $2.99, Farmer $.84
Lettuce (2 pounds, 1 head): Retail $1.99, Farmer $.37
Fresh Potatoes (10 pounds, Russet): Retail $3.00, Farmer $.72

"The Farmer’s share is derived from USDA, NASS “Agricultural Prices,” 2008. Retail based on Safeway (SE) brand except where noted."

How sad is this? It makes you wonder why we have any family farmers left. How can they survive and what keeps them going?

Remember: this is just one example that demonstrates what's wrong with our large, consolidated food system and it illustrates why direct marketing ventures such as farmers' markets, CSA's, and farm-to-institution programs are so vital. Please, whenever possible, buy directly from a farm or farmer and help support them.

In case you are interested in learning more about the NFU, which was founded in 1902 to help the family farmer address profitability issues and monopolistic practices while America was courting the Industrial Revolution,

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