Ag Policy Blog

Our Bountiful Thanksgiving Dinner is a Little Cheaper This Year

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
Connect with Chris:

I like the taste of turkey, Any time throughout the year, But it never seems to taste as good, As when Thanksgiving's here. Could be it's all the trimmings that are cooked with it to eat- But I think it's eating at Grandma's house that makes it such a treat! -- Author Unknown

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everybody has a little bit different routine for Thanksgiving. My family does the back and forth on Thanksgiving driving to one set of Missouri grandparents, brothers, nieces and nephews, to the next set of Iowa grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews.

At my family, we don't talk much politics, but we argue about football, which is weird because we all root for the same team. Anyway, I love the food and everyone gathering together, even if we are a little loud and my brother doesn't understand football nearly as well as I do.

Looking at Thanksgiving and farmers, the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union had two different news releases breaking down the cost and value of a Thanksgiving dinner.

American Farm Bureau Federation, in its 32nd annual survey of Thanksgiving dinner costs, said the average price of a Thanksgiving dinner this year, feeding ten people, is $49.12, a 75-cent decline from a year ago. A 16-pound turkey averaged $22.38 this year, or about $1.40 a pound. That's kind of interesting, but I always hear about those sales where we shop that if you buy a ham you can even get a turkey to go along with it for free.

“For the second consecutive year, the overall cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said. “The cost of the dinner is the lowest since 2013 and second-lowest since 2011. Even as America’s family farmers and ranchers continue to face economic challenges, they remain committed to providing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers at Thanksgiving and throughout the year.”

AFBF adds that, adjusted for inflation, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is $20.54, the lowest since 2010.

National Farmers Union noted, however, the farmers and ranchers take home just 11.4 cents for every dollar spent on thanks giving dinner. So at $49.12 average per dinner, American farmers and ranchers split up roughly $5.60 per dinner.

On average, farmers receive 17.4 cents per food dollar consumed, but for the 15 dinner items NFU tracks for Thanksgiving, the prices are lower. Turkey growers, for instance, receive 5 cents a pound for a bird retailing at $1.69 a pound. Wheat farmers get about 6 cents on 12 dinner rolls that sell for $3.49. Dairy farmers receive the biggest reward at $1.47 for a $4.49 gallon of fat-free milk, NFU noted.

“This holiday season, it’s important for us to take time to recognize and thank the family farmers and ranchers who provide our Thanksgiving meals,” said Rob Larew, NFU’s Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Communications. “If you don’t live on a farm or work in agriculture, you probably don’t realize the tremendous difference between the price you pay for food at the grocery store and the prices farmers end up receiving for these products. While consumer holiday food costs have declined recently, incomes for American farm and ranch families have dropped precipitously. We’re in the midst of the worst farm economic downturn in 30-40 years, and we’re hopeful these numbers can help illustrate that fact to the general public.”

NFU stated its "The Farmers’ Share" data is based on calculations derived from the monthly Agriculture Prices report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compared to price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket.

Consumers, though, are willing to pay a lot more for convenience these days. At least one major grocery chain in the Midwest, including here in Omaha, will sell a full turkey dinner for $129.99, or a comparable ham dinner for the same price. A gourmet version of both turkey and ham will run $259.99.

Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon also could have simplified a Thanksgiving feast with a mail-order dinner for $159.99.

The food pricing can get a lot higher in restaurants. Forbes reported that a dinner for ten from a high-end New York deli will run $375. Forbes stated the number of people going out for Thanksgiving is on the rise with roughly 9% of people eating out, according to the National Restaurant Association, up from 6% in 2011.…

As Americans we have a great deal to be thankful for as we sit down to eat on Thursday and over-consume the bounty from our farmers, who afford the rest of us the opportunity to reap the harvest of what they sow every year. And as we do so, let's pray our farmers are able to reap more rewards for all that bounty in the coming year.

The poem came from

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .