Most Iowans will soon be sitting down at the table for a Thanksgiving meal and many will be serving up the traditional main course of turkey.
Gretta Irwin, spokeswoman for the Ames-based Iowa Turkey Federation, says Iowa’s seeing excellent production numbers.
“Last year, we moved from the 9th largest turkey producing state to the 8th largest turkey producing state,” Irwin says. “It means we’ve moved up in our production of birds here in Iowa and we’re anticipating that in 2017, we’ll be raising a little over 11-million turkeys annually in Iowa.”
Iowa saw very promising numbers last year despite the bird flu outbreak in the state. Irwin say the rapid recovery and growth of the industry is remarkable, though she says there’s still room to improve, especially in one area.
“We are 5th in the United States in turkey processing,” she says. “A lot of our birds have been coming from adjoining states like South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and Missouri. Our processors see great value in having those birds right here in Iowa, which, I think as Iowans, we’d agree with that.”
Irwin says every single turkey that’s raised and processed in Iowa has financial importance.
“Each bird we raise in Iowa is over $25 worth of economic activity,” Irwin says. “We’re talking a bushel of corn and a third of a bushel of soybeans that those turkeys will consume. Let’s keep that money right here in Iowa, raise those birds in Iowa.”
The Iowa turkey industry also got a boost this week as the turkey that was “pardoned” by President Obama in a White House ceremony was raised on a farm in western Iowa.
Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.