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|Paynesville Press - November 21, 2001|
Minnesota leads nation in turkey production
Chances are good that the turkey you'll be serving on your Thanksgiving table had its humble beginnings on a farm in Minnesota.|
As the leading turkey-producing state in the country, with an estimated 43.5 million birds raised in 2001, Minnesota is home to a lot of turkeys. And that means Minne-sotans, as well as people around the country, are eating a lot of Minne-sota-raised turkey on Thanksgiving.
According to the National Turkey Federation (NTF), 91 percent of Americans eat a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. About 675 million pounds of turkey is consumed on the annual holiday.
Minnesota is home to nearly 600 turkey farms in nearly all areas of the state, with the highest concentration in the west central portion of the state. Kandiyohi County is the leading turkey-producing county, followed by Morrison, Stearns, Becker, and Otter Tail.
Minnesota is also the headquarters of Jennie-O Turkey Store, the nation's largest turkey processing company. Jennie-O Turkey Store has eight processing plants, including in Willmar, Marshall, Melrose, and Montevideo, and has a number of turkey farms in the Paynesville area. The company processed 1.258 billion pounds of turkey in 2000, 60 percent more than the world's second leading processor (Butterball, 775 million pounds).
Minnesota's leading rival in turkey production is North Carolina, which raised 41 million turkeys in 2000. Rounding out the top five in turkey production are Arkansas (28 million), Virginia (25.5 million), and Missouri (23 million).
The Minnesota turkey industry cites its access to a readily available supply of grain, inexpensive transportation costs, and the drive of both large- and small-scale producers as keys to its continued success over the years. "Currently, 90 percent of Minnesota's turkey products processed in Minnesota are exported out of state - and 15 percent of those go directly to international markets," said Paul Hanowski, a turkey producer from Swanville, Minn., who is the current president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. "That means the entire country and many parts of the world are enjoying turkeys raised locally in Minnesota."
According to an economic study by the University of Minnesota, the turkey industry contributes over $600 million to the state's economy and employs nearly 7,000 people.
Spin-off industries employ another 7,800 people, and the turkey industry spends nearly $30 million on corn and soybeans to raise the birds in Minnesota.
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