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Capitol Update: Holiday dinner prices down slightly
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It is a wonderful time of the year in Wisconsin. Thursday is Thanksgiving and gun deer season began on Saturday. The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to spend time with family and friends sharing good conversation and a delicious meal.

Every year, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau releases the average cost for a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people in Wisconsin. Their results are a price sample of 12 Thanksgiving food items in 36 communities in Wisconsin in October and November. This year, the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Wisconsin is down slightly to about $50.08. This is a decrease of 78 cents from 2014, when the average cost of the meal was $50.86. The change represents a 1.5-percent drop in cost for Thanksgiving dinner this year. The survey includes the prices for most traditional items such as turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving dinner in Wisconsin costs 3 cents less than the national average of $50.11. The average price for a 16-pound turkey in Wisconsin is about $23.36, which is slightly more than the national average of $23.04. However, this is the same as last year's average price for a turkey in Wisconsin.

There have been some concerns nationally that the outbreak of avian flu earlier this year would negatively impact the supply of turkeys this Thanksgiving. Nearly 8 million turkeys were lost during the outbreak last spring. This situation reduced supplies nationwide and sent prices up. However, Thanksgiving tends to be an outlier for turkey sales. Grocers usually discount turkeys, some even selling them at a loss, to lure shoppers into their stores. Consultants for the poultry industry also point out that many of the birds meant for Thanksgiving this year were born, slaughtered, and frozen before the outbreak of avian flu last spring.

The rest of the meal largely relies on produce prices. The price of cranberries remains unchanged this year. The price of sweet potatoes has decreased for this year's meal by 6 cents. The pumpkin crop suffered a loss from a particularly rainy season. Illinois, the largest grower of pumpkins in the nation, saw a 50-percent loss of crop, which has caused prices for pumpkin pie mix to increase by 7 cents. For a pound of green peas, the price in Wisconsin has dropped from $1.68 to $1.45.

Fortunately, for those who are traveling to be with family and friends, the cost of fuel is the lowest since 2008. The national average price of gasoline in November is $2.21 per gallon, which is 72 cents less than it was a year ago. The average price for gas in every state is now below $3 per gallon.

This year, we have a lot for which we are thankful. If you are traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday, I wish you a safe trip. Enjoy your time with family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.

- Sen. Howard Marklein represents Wisconsin's 17th Senate District. His column is published Mondays in the Times.