Farmers’ Share of Food Spending Drops

For each dollar Americans spend on food, 14.6 cents go to farmers, according to the latest figures from USDA Economic Research Service. The report, using 2017 data, marks the sixth straight year farmers have earned a smaller share of domestic food spending.


The share of food spending that goes to America’s farmers fell for the sixth straight year in 2017, according to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS).

Farmers earned 14.6 cents in commodity sales on every dollar Americans spent for food in 2017 – about a fifth of a cent less than farmers received in 2016.

Farmers’ share of America’s food dollars has been eroding since 2011, when farmers received 17.6 cents for every dollar spent on food in the United States.

The Economic Research Service calculates the farmers’ share of food spending using “input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares from a typical food dollar.”

The figure for spending includes purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and other eating places. The share of American food spending that goes to the foodservice industry has increased for six consecutive years.

“Farmers receive a smaller percentage from eating-out expenditures because food makes up a smaller share of the total costs due to restaurants’ added costs of preparing and serving meals,” according to the ERS.

The Economic Research Service tracks American food spending and farmer income through its Food Dollar Series. The annual report is available back to 1993.

Farmers received 14.6 cents, on average, for every dollar Americans spent on domestic food items in 2017. The remaining 85.4 cents went to marketing entities.