Cost of Thanksgiving dinner remains about the same, but you will pay more for the turkey

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The cost of Thanksgiving dinner in 2012 is $49.48 for ten people, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Consumers can breathe a sigh of relief.  The cost of cooking a Thanksgiving meal is about the same as last year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

A Thanksgiving meal for ten people costs $49.48, only a 28-cent increase from last year, the federation said. The group factored in prices for key ingredients like turkey, cranberries and sweet potatoes.

The slight price increase stands in sharp contrast to last year, when Thanksgiving shoppers  experienced sticker shock at the grocery store. The average price of last year’s turkey feast increased nearly $6 from 2010.

Even though the overall cost of a Thanksgiving meal is about the same, turkeys are more expensive. A 16-pound bird costs $22.23, up 66 cents from last year, the federation said.

Farmers say it costs more money to feed turkeys grains like corn. The fuel for the tractors that distribute the feed is more expensive, too.

Terry W. Branigan, owner of Branigan’s Turkey Farm in Woodland, said his cost of corn went up 30 to 40 percent, compared with two or three years ago. He had a choice—either pass the cost along to the consumer, or keep prices the same as last year.

“As much as feed went up, we’re actually holding our price (from) last year,” Branigan said. “It’s not because we wanted to, it’s just because we’re afraid to go up.”

Branigan will sell his free-range turkeys at $3.99 a pound, even though he’ll make less profit on each one.

Other farmers have passed along the additional cost to consumers. Branigan said if the cost of feed continues to increase, he may have to raise his turkey prices next year. 

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