The price tag for this year's Labor Day cookout is going up.

The cattle market ran wild in a series of late-night trades last week, according to reports. Frenzied negotiations between feedlot operators and meatpackers drove the price of a live steer up to a 22-month high of more than $1/lb. Wholesale beef reached a two-month high of more than $1.58/lb.

The increase comes from a combination of declining animal weights after the hard winter and increasing demand from hordes of Americans who have come back from the financial crisis with steak knives in hand. Meat processors wanting to fill orders for the fall and late summer are rushing to stock up.

In addition to the domestic market, U.S. beef exports are expected to rise 13% this year as countries like South Korea and Japan develop a taste for a more Western diet. And some think prices could keep going up.

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