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Farmers Say Prices They Receive For Crops Remain Stagnant; Navigating Thanksgiving With COVID Cases On The Rise; Microsoft's Xbox Celebrates 20th Anniversary. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 25, 2021 - 15:00   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: You're paying more for your groceries, but farmers are not getting paid more for their crops. CNN's Gabe Cohen reports.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Jim Jones finishes the sweet potato harvest on his North Carolina farm, skyrocketing costs are slicing through his profits.

GABE COHEN (on camera): Are you seeing any more money from this inflation?

JIM JONES, FARMER: No, no, we're actually paying for it.

COHEN (voice over): The price of fertilizer, fuel, and labor are way up with no ceiling in sight.

COHEN (on camera): How did your profit change this year?

JONES: I would say maybe 10 to 15 percent.

COHEN: What about looking ahead to next year/

JONES: Add that much more to it again.

COHEN (voice over): Inflation may be cooking up the most expensive Thanksgiving in history for families. The USDA says the average dinner cost is up five percent. The American Farm Bureau says it may be as much as 14 percent. Their survey shows price hikes on most products from potatoes to cranberries to turkeys, which are nearing a record high.

COHEN (on camera): Despite those markups at the market. Many farmers say the price they receive for their crop isn't going up.

So your price is staying the same?

JONES: My price is staying the same or a little lower?

COHEN: Why don't farmers just raise the price of their crops?

PATTY EDELBURG, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: Farmers are price takers, not price makers.

COHEN (voice over): Patty Edelberg is Vice President of the National Farmers Union.

COHEN (on camera): Who is making the money from that inflation?

EDELBURG: Much more the middleman than anybody else.

COHEN (voice over): The USDA confirms that in many cases, processors and distributors that get food from the farm to store shelves are the ones passing along there surging costs, with materials and ingredients still stuck on cargo ships and a shortage of labor and truckers driving up wages and costs.

TREY MALONE, AGRICULTURAL ECONOMIST, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: To some extent, we're also trying to pay for the uncertainty in the marketplace right now.

COHEN (voice over): Trey Malone is an agricultural economist at Michigan State University.

MALONE: So we're in the middle of a perfect storm of unique events in agricultural production, I would say buckle up for a while longer of these higher input costs.

COHEN: Some farms are stocking up on materials in case suppliers run out. Others are waiting, hoping prices will drop. All these costs, especially labor are threatening Matt Alvernaz's California sweet potato farm.

MATT ALVERNAZ, SWEET POTATO FARMER: We were making $100,000.00 to $150,000.00 a year in profit. This year, we're probably going to lose $80,000.00 to $120,000.00.

COHEN: And it's only getting worse.

ALVERNAZ: We could potentially lose a quarter of a million dollars next year. We would not have enough cash to take into the following year in order to get our operating loan in order to operate for the following year.

COHEN: Farmers are used to volatility and both Alvernaz and Jones are now looking for ways to adapt like downsizing or shifting to other crops.

JONES: We don't worry that I don't -- I ain't going to let it get me down. We'll survive somehow.

COHEN: As long as these money problems stop piling up.

JONES: We just need to get a fair price for what we're growing.

COHEN: Gabe Cohen, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DEAN: Gabe, thank you. Could our family gatherings this Thanksgiving

lead to a COVID surge just a few weeks from now? President Biden's top COVID adviser fears that could happen. More when we come back.



DEAN: As Americans gather for Thanksgiving, the World Health Organization warns COVID-19 cases have been increasing around the world for more than a month, and the highest numbers are right here in the United States. Dr. Anthony Fauci told our John Berman, we all know what to do to prevent a winter spike.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is conceivable, John, that that is going to be the case, but we can do something about it. We can get the unvaccinated vaccinated. We can get those who've been vaccinated boosters, and we can be prudent and careful when we go to indoor congregate settings to make sure we follow the C.D.C. recommendations of wearing a mask.

If we do that, it's within our power to prevent a big surge.


DEAN: Dr. Esther Choo is joining us now. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for being here on your Holiday. We're thrilled to have you.

I want to start first with what Dr. Fauci said, get your shots, get your boosters, wear a mask -- all the things we know. But travel is way up and people are getting together a lot more than they did last year. Dr. Choo, what's your biggest concern as we head into the Holidays and the winter season?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, thanks for having me on, Jessica. The Holidays have always been kind of our Achilles heel in this fight and coming from the side of the emergency department, I'll tell you, we have still not recovered from the last surge.


So we hit a low point in COVID cases in July, then when we had the fall surge, we kind of hoped to get back to those low levels before we entered into the winter holidays, which inevitably caused a bump in cases because people gather and it's cold. We haven't gone back down.

And in the hospital, we always have a lot of catch up care. So, we're trying to do all the care that we couldn't do when we were super crowded with COVID, and we had unprecedented healthcare workers leaving the workforce.

So we are just crushed in the hospital going in to the winter holidays. So our fear is that there will be severe capacity issues again, that our ICUs will get crowded out. We won't be able to get people the care they need when they do get sick from COVID.

DEAN: Yes, it's just a terrible situation. And, you know, obviously, people are gathering today. Many, many Americans are vaccinated. They are able to safely gather with family and friends, but what should people be keeping in mind. I know everyone has fatigue about COVID. They're kind of, you know, done. They don't want to wear the mask anymore. They don't want to do this or that.

But what is a reasonable thing to do? If you're getting ready to head over to someone's for Thanksgiving right now? Is it rapid testing? Is it the mask? What should people be doing?

CHOO: I think like before, just don't give up, you know. And also remember, it is layered protections. I am also tired of all of this. And yet we have built skills around keeping ourselves safe and just continue those things.

And I think, it's like you said, so hopefully most people in your gathering, maybe everybody will be vaccinated or partially vaccinated. If you can layer on testing, I know accessibility has been a huge thing, but if you can layer on testing before people get there, that's wonderful.

And then the other thing is, if you're feeling sick, or if you know that people are symptomatic, please make the hard decision to not include them in the family gathering. I think those things and then you know, anything you can do in the setting, keeping windows open, trying to make gatherings you know, lovely and enjoyable, but also, you don't have to linger, you can keep them relatively short.

DEAN: Keep everybody -- keep everybody safe. And also, you know, we look tomorrow to Black Friday, and that's crowded spaces, right? People -- what should people be thinking about before hitting those sales where you're just kind of jammed in there with a bunch of other people who you don't know, you don't know their vaccination status, or if they're feeling sick or not?

CHOO: Right. Well, I'm hoping this year that people can think of Black Friday as not a single day. But a concept that stretches out over a week. The big box stores have really tried to help us with this. So Black Friday deals started before Thanksgiving, they are extending them longer to try to spread people out.

There is -- every deal is actually available online, and also there's lots of curbside, you know, contact free pickup, and stores are doing special hours for the elderly and immunocompromised. Those are the big stores.

But of course, we also want to support our smaller stores that may not be able to offer those same things. And I would just say commonsense. You know, where your masks, take a peek inside, if I see a mosh pit, and lots of people aren't wearing masks, I'm not going inside as much as I love those sales.

And I will also say, it used to be a group event, I would take somebody with me all the time. And I would ask people not to do that. If you can get a list from people, if you can go alone. I think we need to think about not contributing to the overcrowding ourselves. And of course, just like with Thanksgiving, if you're feeling sick even a little bit, I know the pressure of shopping is there, but you have to do the responsible thing, and stay home until you're feeling better.

DEAN: Yes, exactly. Before I let you go, with boosters now recommended for all adults, do you consider someone who is yet to get that third dose fully vaccinated? And I guess an easier way of saying that is, are you fully vaccinated with two or is it now three?

CHOO: Yes, well, it's -- you know, this is the kind of thing that will still evolve. For sure, people who are immunocompromised and elderly, the full series is three. Boosts, you know, we're learning more about waning immunity as we go. Now, anybody over 18 or over is eligible for a booster.

So I still think you've got the full series. But we know that immunity probably is not as strong. And so, I think, you know, a booster now is available for everybody. But I think clearly the full series is -- you're completely vaccinated, particularly if you're immunocompromised or elderly. It requires the full series now. It's a good time to get it.

DEAN: Yes.

CHOO: I was just going to say, and along with your flu shot, I think with your flu shot, then you're really protected for the winter.

DEAN: Exactly. Dr. Esther Choo, thanks so much. Have a great Thanksgiving.

CHOO: Have a great holiday. Thank you, Jessica.

DEAN: Thank you.

Now let's turn to Wisconsin where three more children who were injured in the deadly Christmas parade incident are now out of the hospital and will get to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Ten children are still at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The hospital says five of them are in critical condition, two in fair, and three in good condition. We're sending them lots of love today.

You'll remember that six people were killed and dozens hurt after an SUV rammed through a crowded parade Sunday. The driver of that car, Darrell Brooks, faces five counts of first degree intentional homicide, with more charges expected to be filed.

Coming up, they make games so with budgets the size of a Hollywood movie budget. Our Richard Quest talks to the head of Xbox about the future of one of the biggest video game companies.

And join Fareed Zakaria for an in depth look at China's leader. "China's Iron Fist: Xi Jinping and the Stakes for America" begins Sunday night at nine Eastern right here on CNN.



DEAN: Whether they are young or young at heart, chances are good that someone on your holiday shopping list wants an Xbox. This is the 20th anniversary of Microsoft's video game console and CNN's Richard Quest sat down with the CEO of Xbox to see what the next 20 years could bring.




SPENCER: Race has started.

QUEST: Yes, don't stop there.

QUEST (voice over): I think the last video game I played with any degree of fervor was Pac-Man. That was many years ago. I barely picked up a controller, but Phil Spencer is a video game expert.

QUEST (on camera): Oh, this is -- this is not fair. This is absolutely not fair. How many times have you played this?

QUEST (voice over): He's worked at Microsoft since the company starting gaming 20 years ago. At the time, people were skeptical Xbox could compete in an industry dominated by Sony and Nintendo.

Now with games like Halo, the console brings in billions of dollars every year for Microsoft.

SPENCER: Three billion people play video games on the planet, most of those people are playing on devices that they already own, that they might use for other phone calls, tablets, whatever.

So at Microsoft, we're putting the player at the center. We're allowing somebody to play all the games, connect to all the community they want to connect to, regardless of what device that they want to play on.

We're using the power of the Cloud to deliver Xbox games that can run on consoles, but also run on the Cloud, and come to players anywhere. And that's I think, for us our long-term vision is allowing anybody to play -- when everybody plays we all win.

QUEST: All right, come on, I am on your tail. Oh know, go backwards. [Bleep] just push.

SPENCER: I have faith in you, you're going to catch up.

QUEST (voice over): This is called ritual humiliation. How long do they take to create these things?

SPENCER: Big AAA games, three to four year development cycles, sometimes longer, hundreds of people working on them. Budgets, often in excess of $100 million. I mean, they are the size of a Hollywood production. And from a people standpoint, they can be larger because you have -- it's this unique intersection of technology, art, game design, all coming together.

And the viewer if you think about it in the lens of like video or something, has agency of what happens on screen, so we can't script everything.

QUEST: Did Xbox make Microsoft just a little bit cool?

SPENCER: That's a hard one. That's in the lens of our customers. I will say from a team standpoint, I think that the team inside of Xbox that works inside of Microsoft has a unique voice and unique perspective.

QUEST: Oh, you are being so charitable, when I think of that Redmond campus, and I think of all the people on Windows and all the other things, I think of the Xbox team. You must be like the cool kids at the candy store.

SPENCER: It's a really fun place to work, and I'm very proud of the team. It's our 20th anniversary of Xbox, which is crazy to think about.


SPENCER: But yes, if we can bring a little bit of cool into Microsoft, I don't think that's a bad thing.

QUEST: There we go. Here we go. Speeding up now, no amount of shouting now.

QUEST (voice over): In a company known for workplace software, Xbox brings high flying graphics and a bit of kudos, too.

Richard Quest, CNN, New York.


DEAN: Coming up next, how a mistaken text turned into a heartwarming Thanksgiving tradition.



DEAN: It has been six years since a text message mistake became an unlikely friendship. In 2016, Wanda Dench mistakenly and now famously sent a text message inviting Jamal Hinton to Thanksgiving thinking she was texting her grandson.

Once they sorted everything out, Hinton asked if he could still come to Thanksgiving dinner and Dench said of course, and the two have shared the Holiday ever since.


WANDA DENCH, THANKSGIVING HOSTESS: I changed my view totally of, you know, the younger generation. And now that I reflect back on all these years, I didn't change their life, they changed mine.


DEAN: Cheers to Wanda and Jamal and the accidental friendship that has endured and now become a Thanksgiving tradition.

And of course Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to pause and be grateful for our blessings and we've asked some of you to share what you're grateful for this year.

Roxanne Watson wrote to us about the young man who donated his heart to her in 2010 saving her life. And since then she says she has dedicated her energies to encouraging others to be donors.

Mike La Monica is grateful he decided to get back to competitive swimming, something he had done back in college and not only did he find a refuge from the pandemic, he also met a pool manager who turned out to be the love of his live and Mike and Kelly were married in September.

So much to be thankful for. Thank you for spending this afternoon with me. Have a great Thanksgiving. I'm Jessica Dean. A special Thanksgiving Day marathon of Stanley Tucci, "Searching for Italy" starts now.