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As the 4th of July approaches, many Americans are preparing to fire up their grills and host cookouts for friends and family. But as prices surge across the board, hosting a barbecue is costlier than it was this time last year.

The cost of the average Independence Day cookout for 10 people is 17% more expensive than last year, coming in at a total cost of $69.

68, according to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation. That’s an increase of more than $10 from the 2021 sum of $59.50.

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One staple cookout ingredient, ground beef, saw the largest year-to-year price increase. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that two pounds of ground beef costs an average of $11.12, up more than a third from last year.

Other popular cookout items highlighted in the survey, including chicken breasts, pork chops, potato salad, lemonade, pork & beans, hamburger buns and cookies, also rose in price.

Farmers are also feeling the pain of the price surge. Supply chain blunders, worker shortages and inflation have all factored into price increases, and created a volatile market for farmed goods.

“We continue to experience really uncertain and unpredictable times,” said Laura Strange, the senior vice president of communications and external affairs at the National Grocers Association. “What we’ve seen is kind of the perfect storm of input costs and a tight labor market that have led to price increases across the supply chain.”

Increases in the cost of diesel fuel, food packaging and other raw materials makes it more costly to get food from the farm to your fork, she said.

“Like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist at the American Farmer Bureau Federation, in a statement. “Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses. The cost of fuel is up and fertilizer prices have tripled.”

But even amid high grocery costs, Strange said, there are ways consumers can still take advantage of savings.

She recommends shoppers sign up for their local grocery store’s loyalty program, where grocers offer exclusive sales on sought-after items.

She also said to shop early — one to two weeks in advance of a major holiday when possible — to reap the benefits of promotional sales when demand is highest.

On top of utilizing goods you already have in your home, Strange also recommends looking at private-label items for certain dishes instead of spending your whole grocery bill splurging on name-brands.

When cookout shopping, “you might want to indulge on some of the meat whereas you could potentially look at other opportunities for savings on some of the side items,” she said.

While this year’s cookout costs less than $7 per party guest, prices can vary at different grocery retailers and impact consumer’s pockets differently. Strange recommends exploring local stores that may offer food deals that big name suppliers don’t.

“Look at a local community independent grocer or to check them out ahead of the season. You might see some additional specialty food items that are unique to that one grocer.”

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Tags: american farm bureau federation cookout economy food costs fourth of july inflation lauren hamilton to price increases on some ground beef the cost farmers the cost

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Former New England Patriot Rob Ninkovich reveals he retired to avoid ‘another 850 shots to the head’

FORMER New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich has weighed in on the ongoing NFL concussion debate.

Eleven-year NFL veteran turned ESPN analyst Ninkovich, 38, has expressed concern for Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after his most recent concussion.

3Ninkovic retired after winning two Super Bowl with the PatriotsCredit: Getty 3Ninkovic was a fifth-round pick by the Miami DolphinsCredit: Getty

After sustaining what the Dolphins described as a back injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, Tagovailoa was cleared to continue playing despite having stumbled shortly after the hit from linebacker Matt Milano.

Then just four days later, Tagovailoa was started against the Cincinnati Bengals during which he suffered yet another blow to the head - this time he was stretchered off the field and hospitalized with a confirmed concussion.

Per Pro Football Talk, Ninkovich said: "I think if 54-year-old Tua could talk to 24-year-old Tua, he would ask him, ‘What were you thinking?’

"Twenty-four-year-olds think they’re indestructible. A football player is made to never want to come off the field. He never wants to surrender.

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"And head injuries are the hardest injury for athletes to accept. You don’t know the effect of most of them till later in life.

"But you have to protect the player from the player."

Ninkovich admitted that after winning his second Super Bowl, the Patriots did try to convince him to unretire multiple times, but to no avail.

Ninkovich said: "If you’ve played for a few years, and you have decent money saved for life after football, and you’re deciding whether to play one more year … The price you pay for one more year of salary is you might take another 850 shots to the head. Is it worth it? It wasn’t for me."

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And the former Patriots stalwart wasn't afraid to criticize the NFL's apparent hypocrisy when it comes to their attitude towards player's wellbeing.

Ninkovich explained: "The league preaches safety all the time. But then they add a 17th game, and one game a year for every team on three days’ rest, the Thursday night game.

"What really bothers me is Tua is a highly talked-about person in a highly sought-after position, so this gets a ton of attention. Rightfully so.

"But what about offensive linemen or lesser-known players when this happens to them? Nobody notices. It’s brushed under the rug."

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The veteran linebacker also brought up a topic that doesn't get the coverage that it arguably should: The impact these traumatic brain injuries have on family and friends.

Ninkovich elaborated: "The whole thing is upsetting.

"It’s the families, the wives and the children, who will deal with the consequences of things like these far down the road. They’ll be dealing with what happened to these players when they were 24 years old."

3Ninkovic made 131 regular season appearancesCredit: Getty Topics
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