By John Lauritsen

PRINCETON, Minn. (WCCO) – Cookouts may be a little bit more expensive this Memorial Day.

With the holiday weekend coming up it’s time to start thinking about how to celebrate, but you may want to skip the cookouts this year as the price of meat is going up.

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The USDA says beef is now $5.50 a pound.

That’s 46 cents more since January, and about 5.5 percent more than this time last year.

Sirloin steak is up about 60 cents.

Ground Beef? It’s up 35 cents.

The price of pork is up too. It’s about 20 cents more this year.

“It’s part of doing business, as well as supply and demand,” Bryan Lawrence, from Lawrence Herefords near Princeton, Minn, said.

The supply at the Lawrence family farm is down, but the demand for their cows is up.

It’s tricky, because with beef prices the highest they’ve been in more than a quarter of a century, there’s money to be made.

However, if the Lawrence’s add more cows to their farm, they’ll also pay more for feed and forage.

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It’s a catch-22 for cows.

“We’ve had as many as 100 cows, and when feed prices started creeping up, we made a decision to decrease the number of animals just because we had because we didn’t have availability of feed,” Lawrence said.

The Lawrences are far from alone.

Drought and disease in parts of the country have also cut into beef cattle production.

All while countries like China, Brazil and Mexico are starting to eat more beef and are asking for more exports.

“The American cow herd is at one of the all-time lows, you know, I think since the 1950’s. There’s fewer cows in the U.S. than there ever has been since then,” Lawrence said.

The result is a bit of sticker shock in time for the Memorial Day weekend, and producers, like the Lawrence’s, are hoping the beefed up prices don’t scare off consumers.

“We just need to remember that it’s a product that’s really good for us as a protein source,” Bryan’s wife, Marytina, said.

The price of poultry cuts are down at the moment, so that is one option for a cheaper meal to grill.

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But for those who can’t live without burgers but aren’t sure about the increased price, the Beef Council suggests buying less-expensive cuts of beef, use a marinade or rub and buy in bulk.

John Lauritsen