As South Dakota families gather to enjoy Thanksgiving meals and express gratitude for health and happiness, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC) offers this Kernel of Truth: Americans enjoy the cheapest food supply in the world and we have farmers to thank for providing the safest, most economical food source available.
The SDCUC recently launched a consumer education campaign, Kernels of Truth, to describe the role corn plays in food prices. While it’s true food prices are on the rise, the supply of corn to the retail food industry has not changed and corn prices have little effect on the retail price of food. For example, in the gallon of milk consumers will use to prepare their Thanksgiving meals, the value of corn in that gallon of milk is just 6 cents.
While the average price of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 has increased about $4 this year, the real dollar price adjusted for inflation has actually declined about 9 percent in the past 20 years. According to the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food expenses, while households in countries like India often spend 50 percent of their budget on food.
“South Dakota’s corn producers harvested a record corn crop this year, giving consumers every confidence that with increasingly demanding food, feed and fuel needs to meet, U.S. producers collectively will make sure our food supply is not only safe and secure, but ample enough to meet all demands while at the same time, maintaining the affordable food prices consumers have come to expect,” said Jerry Rubendall, farmer and president of the SDCUC.
How America Stacks Up
Country Percent of Budget Spent on Food
United States 10%
New Zealand 20%
United Kingdom 22%
South Africa 28%
Source: USDA Economic Research Service
“While corn prices have increased in recent months, economic analysis shows that when adjusted to real dollars without inflation, corn is a bargain at prices cheaper than 20 years ago,” says Jim McLaren, economist and president of Strathkirn technical consulting company. “Combining these factors with farm production that continues to grow help keep America’s food supply the cheapest on Earth. Our nation’s farmers are really one of our country’s greatest natural resources.”
Even celebrities like James Garner are speaking out about the import role farmers are playing in providing a secure food and energy future.
“Many Americans don’t realize that we enjoy the safest, most affordable food supply in the world, thanks to our country’s farmers,” Garner says. “This year, our corn growers are also helping us to solidify a more secure energy future by also producing corn for cleaner-burning renewable ethanol. I hope others will join me in thanking corn growers for helping fill our grocery shelves and still filling our cars with renewable fuel.”