Donations of corn flakes, milk and money were made to several food pantries and an FFA Chapter by the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association during June Dairy month to coincide with several area breakfasts on farms.
On behalf of the Hinchley Dairy Farm, hosts of the recent Dane County Annual Breakfast on the Farm, more than 2,000 bowls of corn flakes and some 60 gallons of milk were donated to their local food pantry in Deerfield. On behalf of the Thorp FFA, sponsors of a recent Farmers' Share Breakfast, more than 1,000 bowls of corn flakes went donated to the local food pantry in Stanley along with a $100 donation to the FFA chapter. Additional donations of corn flakes recently went to food pantries in Brandon and Beaver Dam.
All together, the donated corn flakes cost nearly $900 at the grocery store. However, the farmer's share – or the amount food manufactures paid for the corn in those boxes – totaled just over $10. That's because an 18-ounce box of corn flakes contains only about 4 cents of corn. The majority of food costs come from such added inputs as packaging, labor, transportation and food company profits. Corn flakes boxes stickered with these messages were use as center pieces at recent farm breakfasts across the state.
"It's important to remember that there are families in our communities who cannot afford basic necessities such as breakfast," says Randy Woodruff, a Chippewa Falls corn and dairy farmer who serves as president of WCGA. "We also want people to realize that farmers get only about four cents for the amount of corn that is in a $3.45 box of cereal with 18 servings," Woodruff relates. "Moreover, cows eat less than 10 cents worth of corn to produce a gallon of milk and while farmers are getting much less for their corn and milk than they did last year this time, grocery store prices remain high."
In fact labor, packaging, transportation, advertising and food-company profits comprise more than 80% of the retail price of food products. Woodruff, who also is a dairy producer, notes that while the average price for a gallon of milk at grocery stores was down just 19% last month, farmers received 35% less than last fall. In addition, last year when corn prices briefly hit record high levels, several large food manufacturers who complained most about the high cost of corn reported in turn record company profits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that prices received by farmers are as low as two to three cents per item for products such as bread and cereal. On average only 19 cents of every dollar spent on food works its way back to the farm. Independent reports conducted by the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development at Iowa State and the Consumer Federation of America also have concluded that farm price fluctuations had little effect on consumer food prices.
The Wisconsin Corn Growers Association represents the interest of state corn growers in the growing and managing of corn grown both for on-farm feeding and commercial sale. WCGA works with other organizations in areas of mutual concern, including biotech issues, resistance management, pesticide issues, farmland taxation and valuation, conservation, and the environment. WCGA brings together corn growers to provide information and education at regional corn conferences and the annual Wisconsin Corn/Soy EXPO. As part of NCGA, WCGA represents corn grower interests nationally and internationally and also sponsors the annual corn yield contest.