This morning Governor Dayton kicked off Thanksgiving Week with the help of a feathered friend. The Governor was joined by a Minnesota-raised turkey, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association President John Zimmerman, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota for the occasion.
The Minnesota-raised turkey that took part in today’s festivities comes from a distinguished family – President Obama is pardoning his brother later this week. The turkeys were raised in Badger, Minnesota by John Burkel, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and his family.
Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state with roughly 600 farms. Many of these farmers are fourth and fifth generation turkey farmers – highlighting the long-standing tradition Minnesota has in turkey farming.
These are not the only turkeys being raised in Minnesota either. Our turkey farmers are the top producers in the United States – raising approximately 47 million birds every year. This brings more than 600 million dollars to farmers and related industries and supports about 26,000 Minnesota jobs.
Minnesota also is home to seven turkey-processing companies. This includes Jennie-O Turkey the world’s second largest processor of turkey, which employs about 5,300 Minnesota workers. In addition, Turkey Valley Farms and Northern Pride, Inc., also have plants in Minnesota.
Two years ago, Governor Dayton sent off a Minnesota turkey – Ted – to take part in the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation at the White House. Before his debut, the turkey escaped his cage and made a rush for the bright lights of the press cameras. Thankfully, this year’s turkey was better behaved.