Farms, Farming and Food

Food and Agriculture in the Maritimes, Canada and around the world

Farmers’ Share of Food Dollar

  • July
  • 24

2:39 am farming

How much of the money that you spend at the grocery store ends up in the farmer’s pockets?

According to the article “Farmers’ Share of Food Dollar” on Envirovore, not much. The story claims that on average, 20% of every dollar goes to the farmer. Obviously, the percentage will vary greatly based on product and how much marketing, manufacturing and processing is required. For example, $10 worth of potato chips will bring less money to the farm than $10 worth of potatoes as the chips require additional processing and other costs.

Mind you, the volume of food and therefore the effort required by the farmer, needed for $10 worth of potatoes is much greater than for the potato chips. The processors of the potatoes do add value and in doing so raise the value of the final product.

All things being equal however, there is a large amount of additional mark-up that is consumed by middle men in the food distribution chain. The retailer, the distributor and the shipper all take a cut of each dollar that you spend on food at the grocery store.

How to maximize returns to the farmer?

One approach to increasing the percentage of your money getting back onto the farm is to purchase products directly from the farm. Many farms now how retail stands and many more have a presence at local farmer’s markets. By buying directly from the farmer, the middle men in the food distribution chain get bypassed and replaced by the farmer as they are providing the packaging, the transportation and retailing to you directly.

Community Supported Agriculture

Another option which allow you to buy directly from farmers is a Community Supported (or Shared) Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA programs allow consumers to “subscribe” to a farm and get a periodic (often weekly) delivery (or pick up) of food from the farm when the produce is ready.

Unfortunately CSA programs are not always widely available. For example, in New Brunswick, the only CSA farm that I am aware of is the Bantry Bay Farm which is located near St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Buying locally

Even when buying food from the large supermarket chains, it is possible to increase the percentage of your food dollars ending up on the farm. By buying locally grown and made products, you minimize the amount of money being spent on transportation and shipping. As addition to buying locally produced foods, buying less processed foods will also increase the amount of money being sent to farms and farmers as there less middle men in the food distribution chain and there is also less money spent on processing food. Besides, buying less processed foods is probably much healthier for you too.


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