This has been a challenging spring and early summer for farmers and ranchers throughout Missouri. When what seemed like constant rain throughout the months of April and May finally gave way to more temperate conditions in early June, the winds shifted again and delivered blazing heat and dry conditions that have actually thrown much of the state into a mini-drought. Everything from getting crops into the ground to maintaining the safety and health of all types of animals has kept me and many others up at night.

When the Fourth of July comes around, it’s usually a relief after busy planting and hay seasons. Burgers, fireworks and family all gathered around picnic tables and coolers just feels right. But unfortunately, it seems like nothing is easy or pure fun these days.

Right now, we all dread pulling out our wallet at the gas station or grocery store, and that feeling isn’t going away. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Market Basket survey found that the price of a 12-item July 4th cookout for 10 people is up 17% from last year. The national average for this year’s cookout is $69.68, which is slightly higher than the $69.34 we in the Midwest can expect to pay.

The survey, conducted by Farm Bureau members nationwide who report what they see in front of them at their local grocery stores, isn’t scientific, but it is based on real supermarket prices. It reflects a number of problems we have grown to know, but by no means love: supply chain disruptions, inflation, the war in Ukraine and the Biden Administration’s failed energy policy.

Where are we all taking it on the chin this Independence Day? The main course carries the freight, as two pounds of ground beef will run about $11, up 36% from last year. Two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts are up 33% and should cost about $9, while three pounds of center cut pork chops are up 31% at nearly $15.

However, if you’re a “sides” person, this might be your year, as strawberries, cheese and potato chips are all a little less expensive than a year ago. However, washing your meal down (lemonade is up 22%) and eating dessert (vanilla ice cream is up 10%) might leave a sour taste in your mouth.

Farmers and ranchers who look to celebrate this Fourth of July unfortunately continue to feel the pain on both sides of the equation. Supply costs continue to increase for farmers on everything from fertilizer to baling wire. This results in farmers being paid the same – or less – despite higher food prices.

All of that aside, the United States continues to have a safe food supply that remains one of the most affordable globally. Celebrating our nation’s birth gives us all a chance to take a quick breather and be grateful for the gifts we have been given. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!