Woman paying with a credit card in a supermarket closeup

Are farmers getting rich when you buy food?

As you’ve walked through a grocery store or prepared a meal, have you ever wondered where your dollars spent on food go? As the emphasis on marketing by food brands and stores has increased, the farmer has received less of a share of every dollar spent despite you having to pay more for the same food.


Depending on which food and where you purchase it, you may be contributing less to the farmer than you think. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents from each dollar. Today, an average of only 16 cents of every dollar spent in a retail setting goes to the farmer. Even as this share has decreased, there is still a way to contribute more of your food dollar to the farmer. By simply preparing your food at home, you’re contributing more to the farmer’s share (24 cents) than if you consume food away from home (5 cents). No matter what food you buy, you’re helping to fuel the farmer’s livelihood.


If the majority of each dollar you spend on food does not go back to the farmer, where does it go? In short, marketing. These expenses associated with processing, wholesaling, distributing and retailing account for the remaining 84 cents of every dollar spent on food.

Regardless of marketing claims, you should have confidence that your food is safe because of the checkpoints in our food safety system. No matter what food you buy, you’re helping to fuel the farmer’s livelihood all the same, so if you’re looking for a way to save some money, look for food that is less expensive with fewer marketing claims. You’ll save money and still help a farmer grow food for you and your family!

Learn more from the Food Dollar Series.