Iowa’s a big contributor to the centerpiece of that Thanksgiving dinner. The Iowa Turkey Federation’s Gretta Irwin says we rank near the top in producers. Iowa ranks 9th among the states in turkey production, with 80 family farmers raising the birds and three processing plants. Irwin says the state’s ranking among producers has remained steady in recent years, and she credits the state’s strong family farm operations. There are third-generation turkey farmers coming into the business, and throughout that time she says production’s remained steady. Irwin also says the processors in Storm Lake, Postville, and West Liberty, have helped keep the state prominent in the industry. Irwin explains those three plants can handle even more turkey than Iowa produces. She says output from the plants has risen even though Iowa’s turkey production hasn’t, because turkeys are brought in from surrounding states to be processed. Irwin adds farmers are looking to increase production around Storm Lake, where a new Bil-mar turke plant is opening. Irwin says consumption’s held steady at about 18 pounds per person in the last several years, though more processed and convenience foods are coming on the market all the time and that’s likely to increase how much turkey we eat.
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