Higher prices may mean a leaner Thanksgiving for many North Carolina farmers.
The state's agriculture has a big plate on the nation’s Thanksgiving table. North Carolina is the second-largest turkey producer in the United States and the leading grower of sweet potatoes.
This year, consumers will see double-digit percent price increases for many of their holiday favorites, including the bird. Wholesale prices for turkey are at an all-time high. Part of the blame is on a deadly strain of avian flu that wiped out tens of millions of turkeys and other poultry this year.
Michael Walden is an economist at North Carolina State University. He says those higher prices could lead to people cutting back on the traditional big meal. And that could ultimately hurt the state’s farmers.
“They may have to track this and make some changes for the future,” he says. “Because their purchases — purchases of their turkeys, purchases of their sweet potatoes and other things — may very well fall this year.”
Walden says most farmers won’t benefit from the higher prices because their costs are also rising.
The federal government estimates overall food prices will be up about 10 percent this year. They typically increase by about 2 percent per year.