Farmers and ranchers face higher input costs, crimping budgets

U.S. consumers will pay $69.68 for their favorite Independence Day cookout foods, including cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries, and ice cream, based on a new American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey.

The average cost of a summer cookout for ten people is $69.68, or slightly less than $7 per person. The overall cost for the cookout is up 17% or about $10 from last year due to ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation, and the war in Ukraine.

Like all consumers, farmers and ranchers are also feeling the pinch of price inflation, according to Colorado Farm Bureau president and Molina rancher Carlyle Currier.  

“Even with higher grocery checkout prices, farmers and ranchers won’t see an improvement to their bottom lines this July. Prices for fuel and fertilizer have shot up higher than overall inflation putting the pinch on our budgets. Just like grocery shoppers, we are price-takers, not price-makers,” Currier said. He added, 

“Essentially, the higher prices we’re getting for the commodities we sell won’t make up for the dramatic increase in costs for our inputs. The cost of fuel is up, and fertilizer prices have tripled.”

Reasons for the higher prices include the cascading effects of the war in Ukraine. A significant breadbasket for the world, Ukraine’s contributions to global food security through robust exports are cut off. Russian and Belarusian fertilizer exports are also constrained, and some other countries have pulled back on exports to protect their domestic supplies.

The marketbasket survey shows the most significant year-to-year price increase was for ground beef.

Survey results showed the retail price for 2 pounds of ground beef at $11.12, up 36% from last year. Several other foods in the survey, including chicken breasts, pork chops, homemade potato salad, fresh-squeezed lemonade, pork & beans, hamburger buns, and cookies, also increased in price.

One bright spot for consumers is the average retail price for strawberries, which declined by 86 cents compared to a year ago. Sliced cheese and potato chips also dropped in price, 48 cents and 22 cents, respectively. Better weather conditions in some fruit-growing regions and increased retailer pricing flexibility for processed products are the likely drivers behind the modest price declines for these items. 

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home and general inflation across the economy. Both the index and the marketbasket show increases of more than 10% compared to prices last year.

Commenting on big picture concerns related to food security, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said: “The increased cost of food and supplies is a very real concern in our country and across the globe. U.S. food assistance programs and food banks help those who struggle to make ends meet here at home, but the story is much different around the globe as food insecurity skyrockets. The big impact of a single event in Ukraine shows how dependent the world is on stable, productive agriculture.”

The July 4th cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series, which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.

One hundred seventy-six volunteer shoppers collected data for this year’s survey across the country and Puerto Rico, including Farm Bureau members and other participants.

Individual Prices, AFBF 2022 Summer Cookout

2 pounds of ground beef, $11.12 (+36%)

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, $8.99 (+33%)

32 ounces of pork & beans, $2.53 (+33%)

3 pounds of center cut pork chops, $15.26 (+31%)

2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade, $4.43 (+22%)

2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad, $3.27 (+19%)

8 hamburger buns, $1.93 (+16%)

Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, $5.16 (+10%)

13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies, $4.31 (+7%)

2 pints of strawberries, $4.44 (-16%)

1 pound of sliced cheese, $3.53 (-13%)

16-ounce bag of potato chips, $4.71 (-4%)