The rising costs of feed and fuel have doomed Nebraska’s only remaining turkey processing plant, which plans to close in December, eliminating 225 jobs. Iowa’s turkey industry is also feeling the effects of the changing marketplace, but Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation, says the industry is coping with the challenges and remains solid in this state.
Irwin says: "The turkey industry is having to adjust to the higher feed prices. We are seeing some cutbacks in some of the number of birds the processors are processing. Currently, the industry is in over-supply and we’re going to have to get the supply in better line with demand to help bring some prices up and to help meet the costs of the higher grain prices the industry is facing."
Much of the news has focused on how rising commodity prices are hurting hog and cattle farmers in the region, but Irwin says Iowa’s turkey producers are also reeling. "It does strike all sorts of producers," Irwin says. "When your feed costs have doubled over the last couple of years, that’s adding another 15 to 20-cents per pound to the cost of the turkey products in the grocery stores and in the restaurants."
Iowa has two large turkey processing plants — in Storm Lake and West Liberty — with some production underway at a third plant in Postville. Irwin says those Iowa plants process about eight-million turkeys a year.
"Iowa ranks number nine in turkey production but number five in turkey processing, so the ability to strengthen the turkey production within the state of Iowa has great economic benefits for the state, but helps to keep those plants strong within the state, so we can really only see that continue to strengthen and more production coming into Iowa in the future," Irwin says. For more information, visit the Iowa Turkey Federation website .