- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - With the price of pork and beef increasing, many Arkansas barbecue restaurant owners say they are just taking the hit rather than raising their prices, at least for now.

The higher costs are due to two reasons: a virus that has killed an estimated 5 million pigs across 30 states and the 2011 drought that forced cattle ranchers to rebuild herds.

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, an agriculture marketing and consulting firm in Iowa, said that he does not see beef and pork prices dropping anytime soon.

“This is not something that will just blow over, and it won’t pass in just a few months,” Meyer told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story published Sunday (http://bit.ly/1t9R9HF ). “Prices will get better. Instead of being ridiculously high, they will just be high.”

Smaller mom-and-pop barbecue businesses will be hit the hardest, he added.

Landon Curd is owner of Dink’s Barbeque in Bentonville. He said brisket is the restaurant’s No. 1 seller and has experienced a 70 percent price increase.

Curd said he is absorbing the cost for now.

“I can only charge so much for a barbecue sandwich. I have to eat the loss and hope that I can weather the storm,” he said. “There are always peaks and valleys and eventually it will level out.”

He said he’s raised prices once in four years and he’s hesitant to do it again. But he said if prices don’t level off by the end of summer, he will consider an increase.

James Harold Jones, owner of Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, said his prices have tripled.

“But I refuse to jack up the price again, and I will just have to live with what I get,” he said.

Jones, whose family has operated the restaurant for more than 100 years, said he remains optimistic.

“It’s tough and it’s gonna stay tough. I’ve heard it will be two years before prices really go down,” he added. “All I can do is keep on keeping on.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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