Which State is the Top Turkey Producer?

November 24, 2016 08:24 AM
Which State is the Top Turkey Producer?

Minnesota is king when it comes to raising the bird that could be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal.

The state's 450 turkey farmers raise about 18 percent of all the birds sold in the United States, making Minnesota first in production behind North Carolina and Arkansas.

The Star Tribune reports Minnesota is expected to produce 44 million turkeys this year. The most recent national Agriculture Census shows turkey production particularly high in central Minnesota, including Kandiyohi County.

"We're close to corn and soybeans, and that makes up anywhere from two-thirds to three-fourths of the cost of raising a turkey," said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. "Having those feed sources close helps reduce the costs that we've got going into those birds."

Minnesota turkey farmers support about 1,800 corn and soybean farmers because of the feed that they buy, Olson said.

Olson also said entrepreneurs realized decades ago that processing turkeys near their originating farms can be lucrative. Earl B. Olson developed the Jennie-O turkey brand and named it after his daughter in the 1950s, later selling the company to Hormel. Today, the Jennie-O Turkey Store is the nation's second-largest turkey processor.

The state's turkey producers are a business-savvy group, and some families are in their fourth and fifth generation of raising turkeys, Olsen said.

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