The farmers share of the food dollar has reached an all-time low. For every dollar American consumers spend on food, U.S. farmers and ranchers earn just 14.6 cents, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This value marks a 17 percent decline since 2011 and the smallest portion of the American food dollar farmers have received since the USDA began reporting the data in 1993. The remaining 85.4 cents cover off-farm costs, including processing, wholesaling, distribution, marketing, and retailing.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the data, among other economic conditions, shows “we are in the midst of an agricultural financial crisis.” Johnson points out that conditions for farmers have been eroding since 2011, and “many have already made the heartbreaking decision to close up shop.” In the past five years, the United States lost upwards of 70,000 farm operations. Johnson is hopeful the report “will open policymakers’ eyes” to the financial challenges in agriculture.