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Farmers’ Share Of Retail Dollar Slips Since 2008

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On average, only 27 per cent of the cost of an entire week’s worth of groceries for a family of four goes back to the farms where the food is produced.

The rising cost of food was a topic that ranked high in the minds of Canadians this year. As a farmer and first vice-president of Canada’s largest farm organization, I am often asked: “How much of what I pay in the grocery store goes back to the farmer?” The Farmers’ Share, a recent study commissioned by Manitoba’s Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP), Saskatchewan’s Agricultural Producers Association (APAS), and Alberta’s Wild Rose Agricultural Producers (WRAP), sheds some light on this question. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture hopes that this Thanksgiving season, families will pause and appreciate their local farmer as they comb through grocery store aisles.

While Canadian farmers still provide some of the most affordable food in the world, the amount that returns to the farm gate is relatively small. The report showed that, on average, only 27 per cent of the cost of an entire week’s worth of groceries for a family of four goes back to the farms where the food is produced. Although there was a rise in the cost of groceries by 3.2 per cent from 2008 to 2009, the average farmers’ share decreased by 1.7 per cent from the previous year. While consumers paid $6.01 more for groceries, the farmer received $0.86 less, and the middleman received $6.87 more.

The farmers share does vary significantly between food products. However, this should not be interpreted to mean that some farm sectors are not feeling the price squeeze. The number of steps in the chain between consumers and producers, variations in the costs associated with producing different commodities and differences in the shelf life of some farm products are just some of reasons for variations between different farm products.

In this study, 89 per cent of the foods analyzed are listed as being produced in Canada. To ensure that consumers are able to identify Canadian food products and support our agriculture sector, the CFA will continue to advocate for effective ingredient-based “Product of Canada” guidelines that are both informative to the consumer and practical to the agrifood industry.

Farmers not only produce food, but they are environmental stewards as well as business owners. Canadians continue to receive high-quality food produced at the highest food safety and environmental standards because farmers reinvest in food safety, environmental and animal welfare initiatives on their farms. Factors such as the rising cost fuel and fertilizer, as well as utilities, wages, and other services all put a strain on the farmer’s bottom line.

To see the farmer’s return from the items which make up a typical Canadian Thanksgiving meal visit

Choosing locally produced foods cuts down on the transportation costs and re-invests in the local economy. The CFA hopes that Canadians will support their local farmers and demand locally sourced products at a time when farmers need them the most. The CFA hopes that Canadians appreciate the value of the Canadian agriculture industry and the farmers who help put meals on their tables. This harvest season, be an informed consumer. Support your local farmer.

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