As families and friends gather around the Thanksgiving table this year, here’s something else for which they can be thankful: the cost of putting that meal together is 4 percent less this year than it was in 2008.

Serving 10 people a traditional Thanksgiving meal including turkey, buttered rolls, pumpkin pie and eight others items will cost an estimated $42.91, the American Farm Bureau Federation announced in its annual grocery tabulation this month. That’s a decrease from last year’s $44.61.

Consumers are benefiting from significantly lower energy prices and the effects of the economic slowdown, bureau economist Jim Sartwelle told media outlets. The largest single contributor to the drop is milk, which is down by 92 cents at $2.86 a gallon. A surplus of milk currently exists.

Energy needed to transport, package and process foods has fallen sharply from its 2008 high. Oil is down by about half from its $147 a barrel peak. Shipping, fuel and electricity account for nearly 10 percent of food costs.

Other items that have seen price decreases include whipping cream, rolls and the main course – turkey. A few items have gone up in price, however, including cubed bread stuffing and pumpkin pie mix.

It might help put these prices into perspective, however, when we remember that costs were up 6 percent between 2007 and 2008 – largely due to energy costs.

But as significant as lower prices of groceries are to shoppers, and as thankful as they might be for any help for their budgets, the deepest thanks must go to American farmers and ranchers. Brownwood area residents know better than most in the United States the challenges they face every season, and the incredible bargains they provide for consumers in spite of it all. Many of them have suffered through a difficult year, just as their neighbors living in cities have, yet their bounty makes it possible for residents of this and many other nations to shop with confidence.

This Thanksgiving, remember that farmers get only 19 cents of each dollar spent on food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During those Thanksgiving prayers, certainly thank those whose hands prepared the day’s meal. But don’t forget to thank also those who planted the seed and harvested the crop.

Brownwood Bulletin