Sierra Dawn McClain/Capital Press

Up-close view of a turkey tom. Prices have been rising this year.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota farmers who grow about 45 million turkeys annually will benefit from higher prices this year, according to agriculture experts.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says the price of turkeys has steadily increased as demand has risen following a year in which there were fewer family gatherings and restaurant traffic was down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“USDA is actually predicting this year to be a record high price for turkeys,” said Tim Petry, a livestock marketing economist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service. “From a price standpoint, these are the best prices they’ve seen for a number of years. So you know, that’s good news for producers.”

The good news on prices is tempered somewhat by rising costs to raise the birds on more than 500 farms in Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Higher prices for corn and soybeans to feed the turkeys is cutting in to profits, growers said.

“Those are our two biggest ingredients and and those prices were substantially higher than last year or past years,” said Jessica Westbrock, the president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “Consumers will see the increase, but the producer doesn’t necessarily get to take that home. We just have to pay more to grow the turkeys.”

While turkey prices are up 17 cents a pound from last year, Petry said consumers are still likely to find bargains as many stores sell turkeys below cost.

“A lot of times they do loss leader turkeys to lure customers in to buy the more expensive markup items that go along with the meal,” he said.

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