Thanksgiving dinner bhofack2/Getty Images
DINNER: Survey results collected by the American Farm Bureau Federation show the average Thanksgiving meal is as cheap in 2018 as it was about 10 years ago.

Quick Take: Thanksgiving dinner, farm econ summits and more

Thanksgiving dinners will be cheaper in 2018. Illinois Farm Economics Summit dates are announced. Ag groups donate pork. A specialty crops conference offers food safety training.

Thanksgiving dinner more affordable in 2018

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 33rd annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $48.90, or less than $5 per person. This is a 22-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.12.

“Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010,” says AFBF Chief Economist John Newton.

The featured food on most Thanksgiving tables — the turkey — cost slightly less than last year, coming in at $21.71 for a 16-pound bird. That’s roughly $1.36 per pound, down 3% from last year. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2014.

“Thanks to an ample supply, turkey remains affordable for consumers, which helps keep the overall cost of the dinner reasonably priced as well,” Newton says. 

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest decreases this year in addition to turkey were a gallon of milk at $2.92, a 3-pound bag of sweet potatoes at $3.39, a 1-pound bag of green peas at $1.47, and a dozen rolls at $2.25.

Several items saw modest price increases this year, including cranberries, pumpkin pie mix and stuffing.

The stable average price reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks with the government’s Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home. But while the most recent CPI report for food at home shows a 0.1% increase over the past year, the Farm Bureau survey shows a decline of less than 1%.

After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.37, the most affordable in more than a decade. 

A total of 166 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 37 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages.


Illinois Farm Economics Summit dates announced

Great crops in many parts of the state this year, along with market facilitation payments on soybeans, are helping to support incomes in 2018. Looking forward, the story of Illinois agriculture will continue to be one of managing volatility and financial stress.

The stress has been brought on by low corn, soybean and wheat prices, and especially the ongoing trade war with China. Producers and landowners continue to face a series of difficult management challenges as they grapple with adjusting to this highly volatile economic environment.

What is the prospect for a recovery in grain prices? Should cash rents be lower? And if so, how much? What strategies can be used to weather the current tough times?

University of Illinois Extension and members of the Farmdoc team from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics will be holding a series of five Farm Economics Summit meetings to help producers navigate these difficult times.

Speakers from the Farmdoc team will explore the 2019 outlook for crop and livestock prices, the short- and long-term outlook for grain prices, farm profitability outlook and management challenges, the next farm bill, long-term trends in grain prices, and prospects for farmland values.

The format for the meetings will be fast-paced and will allow plenty of time for questions from the audience. The registration fee for each location is $85 per person and can be paid online.

The schedule is as follows:
Dec. 17 Mount Vernon
Dec. 18 Springfield
Dec. 19 Peoria
Dec. 20 Dekalb
Dec. 21 Champaign


Illinois ag groups gift pork to River Bend Foodbank

As part of the 10th anniversary of the Pork Power: Partnering to Fight Hunger in Illinois campaign, the Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association Checkoff Program and Knox County Pork Producers presented River Bend Foodbank in Davenport, Iowa, with 8,500 pounds of ground pork. 

“As farmers, we want to feed our communities — including those in need,” says Stan Born, a farmer and ISA board member from Dunlap, Ill. “Pork Power offers a practical opportunity for soybean producers to do just that. As a livestock feed ingredient, soybean meal provides critical protein to pork production, which uses nearly 79% of soybean meal fed in Illinois.”

Since its inception in 2008, Pork Power has generated over 625,000 pounds of pork — enough for nearly 2.4 million meals — for families throughout Illinois. Farmers and partnering commodity groups give pork and monetary donations year-round. At the end of each giving season, IPPA turns the remaining funds into ground pork and divides it among the regional foodbanks in the state.

“We recognize that the need for high-quality protein is year-round, and Pork Power offers a practical way for Illinois farmers to work together to feed our communities,” IPPA President Mike Haag says.


Food safety training at upcoming specialty crops conference

The annual Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference will be held Jan. 9-11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield.

The conference offers specialty crop growers and small-farm owners the chance to learn best management practices, marketing techniques, food safety and production practices. The program also features five concurrent preconference workshops on Jan. 9.

The preconference workshops offer intensive learning opportunities in five areas, including financing, sweet corn production and farm food safety training.

The food safety training will provide farmers the opportunity to meet the training requirement of the Food Safety Modernization Act. This training has limited enrollment and requires advanced registration earlier than other sessions. The FSMA training option has a registration deadline of Dec. 21. The cost of this training is also reduced to $45 due to grant funding, but still provides farmers with the manual and certificate.

Attendees can register for the conference at specialtygrowers.org. Pre-registration must be completed by Dec. 31.

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