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Ag groups argue over cost of Thanksgiving dinner

Turkey farmers and processors yelped over a farm group survey on Wednesday that said high turkey prices were driving up the cost of a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. “Turkeys and good deals are available!” said the National Turkey Federation (NTF) in one of the few times the American Farm Bureau Federation has been challenged on its spot checks of holiday grocery prices.

“The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables — the turkey — costs more than last year, at $28.96 for a 16-pound bird,” said the Farm Bureau. “That’s $1.81 a pound, up 21 percent from last year.” The Farm Bureau grocery list, which included stuffing, three pounds of sweet potatoes, and ingredients for two pumpkin pies, rang up at $64.05 for a 10-person meal, a 20 percent increase from last year. The higher prices were attributed to inflation, supply chain disruptions, and warfare in Ukraine.

Turkey prices are coming down as Thanksgiving approaches, so the Farm Bureau survey of stores in October is outdated, said the NTF. On social media, the Agricultural Marketing Service, a USDA agency, cited “reports frozen turkeys are being featured at an avg. of $.97/lb.”

The Biden administration and House Republicans also disputed turkey prices. A National Economic Council spokesperson said two grocery chains had advertised frozen turkeys for less than 40 cents a pound. Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee, pointing to the Farm Bureau’s estimated cost of Thanksgiving dinner, said on social media that “#Bidenflation is impacting the holiday season.”

For its part, the Farm Bureau, while sticking to $1.81 as the average price for a pound for turkey, noted the recent declines in turkey prices. “This means consumers who have not yet purchased a turkey should be able to find one at a lower cost than the Farm Bureau average,” it said.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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