Iowa’s turkey industry is among the nation’s leaders. Iowa ranks ninth among the states in the number of turkeys raised here — and 10th in the amount of turkey slaughtered and processed. Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation, says, “The Iowa turkey industry is continuing to slowly expand some of its operations here in Iowa to help support our processing plants that we do have in Iowa,” Irwin says. “All the turkeys we raise in Iowa are processed in Iowa.” She says there’s 16-dollars worth of economic activity for every turkey raised and slaughtered here. Iowa turkey producers will raise about eight million birds this year. Turkeys are processed at the Sara Lee plant in Storm Lake, and in West Liberty at a plant co-owned by turkey producers. AgriProcessors in Postville slaughters and markets kosher turkeys. Turkey processed here goes all across the globe. West Liberty Foods does a lot of specialty cuts for deli meats. Irwin says the turkey in Subway sandwiches, for example, comes from that West Liberty plant. A fourth Iowa plant in Postville that processed turkeys was destroyed by fire last December. Thanksgiving is truly the top turkey holiday. About a third of the turkey sold each year is purchased for Thanksgiving. “About two-thirds of our (turkey) production goes into further processed products like deli meats, the turkey bacon, pepperoni, sausages — all those other things that we use all year long,” Irwin says.
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