,

MTGA Announces Unsung Hero Award Recipients

2016 Unsung Heroes Award | Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

University of Minnesota MCROC Staffers in Willmar, Minn. Honored

(BUFFALO, MN) –  Cristian Flores Figueroa and Jeannette Munoz Aguayo – technicians with the University of Minnesota’s MidCentral Outreach Center (MCROC) in Willmar, Minn. – were awarded the inaugural Unsung Heroes Award at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) Summer Conference last week in Duluth, Minn. Cristian and Jeannette were recognized for their development of an early Avian Influenza (AI) detection tool. By sampling the drinking water in turkey barns, this technique is able to pick up the virus two to three days before clinical signs show up in a flock. Cristian and Jeannette’s contributions and research has greatly improved early detection of AI in flocks.

Said MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson, “These two scientists were able to take a molecular biology laboratory from a handful of samples per day to hundreds in a very short time. They opened their lab to our industry and have run a plethora of emergency samples at all hours of the day and worked countless weekends. We are grateful for their expertise and many hours of service.”

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, Minn., is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 45 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com.

###

Photo cutline: Jeannette Munoz Aguayo (left) and Cristian Flores Figueroa (middle), technicians at the University of Minnesota MidCentral Outreach Center receive the Unsung Heroes Award from MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson (right).

 

,

June Spotlights Summer Grilling with Turkey and National Turkey Lovers’ Day

National Turkey Lovers Day

June is Turkey Lovers’ Month® and Sunday June 19 is National Turkey Lovers’ Day

(Source: National Turkey Federation) May 27, 2016 – Memorial Day weekend previews grilling season and rekindles America’s love of turkey with the smoky flavors of turkey burgers, turkey tenderloin and turkey drumsticks. An increasing number of consumers are enjoying turkey for outdoor grilling, introduced with the first annual National Turkey Lovers’ Day celebrated on Sunday, June 19th, during June is Turkey Lovers’ Month®, as featured in its 27th year by the National Turkey Federation. 

Grilling is easy, convenient and perfect for a weekday meal solution. Turkey – long known as a healthy lean protein – is also a delicious and sometimes overlooked star of the grill. With Fathers’ Day on Sunday the 19th, the family can gift dad a “grill meal” kit with the tools, seasoning ingredients and choice of turkey meat tenderloin, turkey drumstick or ground turkey and turkey franks to showcase his skill at the grill.

Whether dad prefers his time as outdoor chef spent in quiet relaxation or sharing his time-honored grilling techniques with the family, the Turkey Grilling Tip sheet at ServeTurkey.org renews a familiarity for best grilling the many choice cuts of turkey.  Look under the Resources tab to download quick tips on grilling, cooking and lean meat comparisons among turkey portions. A choice offering of grilling recipes is featured with photos, and commentary from chefs and registered dietitians.

Consumers’ enjoyment of turkey has increased to an average of 16 pounds per person, according to USDA. Daily supply of turkey meat continues plentiful after recovery one year ago from losses of three percent of the turkey population from avian influenza. USDA projects this year’s total production about 6 percent higher than 2015 (USDA Economic Research Service Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook of May 16, 2016). 

— 30 –

EDITORS NOTE: National Turkey Lovers’ Day logo is available for download as eps, jpg, and png files at http://bit.ly/TLDLogos

,

MTGA & MTRPC Announces Several Scholarship Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

(Buffalo, MN )  … The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) recently announced recipients in two scholarship programs.

Evonik Implements Scholarship for HPAI-Impacted Families

Evonik Corporation, a worldwide leader in amino acid production and sales, and long-time Minnesota Turkey Growers Association member, implemented a scholarship program called the Evonik Cares Scholarship designed for children of turkey farmers affected by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak that hit Minnesotaís turkey industry in the spring of 2015.

The initial idea came from Evonikís Vice President, Pete Hohl, after hearing of all the losses turkey farmers were incurring in Minnesota.  Hohl gave Gregg Veldman, Senior Account Manager and Brian Foshee, North America Sales Manager, the charter to find a way to help families affected by the HPAI outbreak. Veldman and Foshee came up with the idea of a college scholarship, fully knowing the strain that a college education can put on families.

“Minnesotaís turkey farmers and their families experienced the largest foreign animal disease outbreak in U.S. history, creating not only economic hardship for the farms directly impacted by HPAI but also a large emotional toll for all of the families involved,” said Gregg Veldman. “This scholarship program is a way for our company to give back to the turkey industry that is so vital to Minnesota.”

Veldman worked with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association to develop and distribute the scholarship.

The scholarship was awarded to the following recipients in the amount of $2,5000 each:

Melanie Adrian – a freshman at Ridgewater College, pursuing a degree in Veterinary Technology.  Melanieís parents are Jonathan and Brenda Adrian

Austin Buysse – a sophomore at Dakota Wesleyan University, pursuing a degree in Sports Management with a minor in Communications. Austinís parents are Kevin and Michelle Buysse.

Autumn Orsten – a junior at Bethel University, pursuing a degree in Biokinetics ñ Exercise Science.  Autumnís parents are Robert and Rochelle Orsten.

Andrea Burkel – A sophomore at University of North Dakota, pursuing a degree in Elementary Education.  Andreaís parents are John and Joni Burkel.

Ranelius Scholarship Honors Students

The long-time annual MTGA and MTRPC Ranelius Scholarship focuses on encouraging applicants who are enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution to prepare for a career within the poultry industry.  This year’s scholarship recipients include:

Eden Norton – a senior at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg High School.  Eden plans to attend North Dakota State University in the fall and major in Ag Education with a minor in Animal Science.  Her parents both work for MTGA members, Dooleyís Petroleum and Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Dakota Tjaden –  a senior at Willmar High School.  Dakota plans to attend North Dakota State University in the fall and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering.  His grandfather, uncle, and parents have all worked for Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Hunter Kvistad – a senior at Lakeview Public High School.  Hunter plans to attend Iowa State University and receive of Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  His parents raise turkeys in Woodlake, MN.

Makayla Kuhn –  a senior at Randolph High School.  At this time, Makayla is undecided where she will attend college in the fall, but has been accepted to St. Olaf, Augustana, and Concordia.  She intends on receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  Her grandfather raises turkeys and she currently works at Ferndale Market.

###

About MTGA

MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raise approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

About MTRPC

MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit , www.minnesotaturkey.com, find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).

,

Bob Peterson, Willmar, Minn., Honored with MTGA’s Most Prestigious Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

(Buffalo, MN )  … The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) announced its prestigious Ranelius Award in 2016 will go to Bob Peterson, Willmar, Minn. The announcement was made at the MTGA Annual Meeting on March 16 in Saint Paul, Minn. The award will be officially presented to Peterson at the organization’s summer conference, June 14-17 in Duluth.

“The Ranelius Award is the most prestigious honor given by the MTGA,” said MTGA President Gene Brownfield of Redwood Falls, Minn. “It signifies leadership and dedication to the industry based on contributions made to enhance Minnesota’s turkey industry, and Gene Brinton is well deserved of this special honor.”

Peterson spent a long and varied career in the turkey industry, working for such companies Pfizer, Belgrade Feed Company, and finally with Willmar Poultry Company’s Farm Service Elevator. Peterson diagnosed diseases, discussed turkey management strategies with growers, and sold feed.

“He loved to build strong relationships with growers in order to understand and best help them with their turkey management, “ said Brownfield, who has known Peterson nearly his entire career in the turkey industry. “Bob was instrumental in my success and the success of many others, and he has served the industry with integrity.”

The Ranelius Award is named for Sven Ranelius, a founding father of the MTGA, often described as a quiet, unselfish person who was very dedicated to the turkey industry in Minnesota. Nominees are evaluated on two central criteria: their contribution to the industry over a period of time; and the quality of that contribution.

For more information on the MTGA or its Ranelius Award program, please contact Lara Durben at 763/682-2171 or ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com.

###

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit , www.minnesotaturkey.com, find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).

,

Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota 4-H Program Honored with Turkey Promoter of the Year Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

(Buffalo, MN )  … The Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) has honored The Minnesota State Fair and the University of Minnesota Extension’s 4-H program with

2016 Turkey Promoters of the Year: UMN Extension Dean Bev Durgan, MN State Fair Executive Director Jerry Hammer, and MN 4-H Program Director Brad Rugg (featured with MTRPC President Robert Orsten, far left).

2016 Turkey Promoters of the Year: UMN Extension Dean Bev Durgan, MN State Fair Executive Director Jerry Hammer, and MN 4-H Program Director Brad Rugg (featured with MTRPC President Robert Orsten, far left).

its 2016 “Turkey Promoter of the Year” award.

The outbreak of hgighly-pathogenic avian influenza in the spring of 2015 created disruptions not only for farmers but for 4-Hers and FFA members raising and showing poultry as part of their projects. When a decision was made to cancel all poultry exhibitions for the immediate future to protect the health of poultry across the state, the Minnesota State Fair and University of Minnesota Extension, and Minnesota 4-H stepped in and worked with MTRPC and others to create a “Science of Poultry” exhibit.

“This exhibit ran during the Minnesota State Fair in the 4-H Poultry Barn,” said MTRPC President Robert Orsten, a turkey farmer from Willmar, Minn. The exhibit included poster boards by 4-Hers, presentations by poultry industry professionals, a “Day in the Life of a Turkey Farmer” video, and banners with influenza, biosecurity, and poultry-raising information.

“The efforts of Extension and the Minnesota State Fair successfully made the experience positive for 4-Hers, consumers, and Minnesota’s poultry farmers,” said Orsten. “We are grateful for the support and assistance of these organizations, especially during this very challenging time for our industry.”

The award was presented at the MTRPC Annual Meeting on March 16 in Saint Paul, Minn. Representatives in attendance included Dean of Extension Bev Durgan, Minnesota State Fair General MNager Jerry Hammer, and Director of Minnesota 4-H Brad Rugg.

For more information about the Promoter of the Year Award or the Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council, please call 763/682-2171, email info@minnesotaturkey.com or visit www.Minnesotaturkey.com.

###

About MTRPC

MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

,

Individuals Honored for Extraordinary Efforts Before, During, and After the Avian Influenza Crisis of 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

Presidents Award - Veterinarians

L to R: Dr. Jill Nezworski, Dr. Ben Wileman, MTRPC President Robert Orsten, and Dr. Michelle Kromm

(Buffalo, MN )  … The Presidents of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) have chosen to honor five worthy individuals for their extraordinary efforts before, during, and after the highly pathogenic avian influenza crisis of 2015.

MTRPC President Robert Orsten of Wilmar, Minn., presented his 2016 President’s Award to three veterinarians who were instrumental in helping Minnesota’s turkey industry respond to each and every challenge the HPAI outbreak threw at them:  Dr. Michelle Kromm, Jennie-O Turkey Store; Dr. Jill Nezworski, Blue House Veterinary; and Dr. Ben Wileman, Willmar Poultry Company.

“These individuals lived the HPAI outbreak on a broader and deeper scale than probably anyone else,” said Orsten. “These three were charged with preventing infections, and if a farm became infected they were crucial in the response. They were experts in bird health going in to the outbreak, and now they are experts in emergency response to a catastrophic disease event. They led the creation of industry-driven prevention and control plans, and their input helped improve response for Minnesota’s poultry farmers and to future HPAI introductions.”

MTGA President Gene Brownfield of Redwood Falls, Minn., chose Dr. David Halvorson, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, as his President’s Award recipient. Dr. Halvorson has been a leader in initiating and implementing what’s called the “Secure Poultry Supply Plan.”

Presidents Award - Steve Olson

MTRPC President Robert Orsten, MTGA President Gene Brownfield, and MTGA/MTRPC Executive Director Steve Olson

Said Brownfield: “This plan establishes science-based testing protocols to enable poultry and poultry products from non-infected farms within a disease control zone to move to market or the next production phase. Basically, this means these businesses are able to continue their operations with minimal disruption.”

Without such protocols in place, healthy birds and safe products would need to be destroyed at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers and to those farms/processors. “Dr. Halvorson led the charge in this important endeavor and is well-deserved of this award,” said Brownfield.

Both President Orsten and Brownfield teamed up, as well, to give a joint President’s Award to MTGA and MTRPC Executive Director Steve Olson. Olson led the HPAI response efforts from the organizational standpoint, assisting in bringing together the government agencies involved and Minnesota’s turkey industry. He also was the “face of the industry” as he willingly participated in hundreds of media interviews with reporters from around the world.

“Our organizations are extremely grateful for Olson’s leadership during this extremely challenging time,” said Orsten.

Brownfield concurred: “His efforts helped shape the overall response and his knowledge of crisis communications was instrumental in making sure the correct messages about this outbreak were conveyed to the public.”

The MTGA and MTRPC President’s Awards are given annually to individual(s) chosen specifically for their dedication and commitment to the goals of the organization.

The official award presentation took place at the MTGA’s annual meeting in Saint Paul, Minn. on March 16.

For more information on the MTGA or its President’s Award program, please contact the MTGA at (763) 682-2171 or visit www.Minnesotaturkey.com.

###

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually . Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

About MTRPC

MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey  year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit , www.minnesotaturkey.com, find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey)

,

Outgoing MTGA & MTRPC Board Directors Honored for Dedication to Turkey Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

(Buffalo, MN)… Turkey farmers John Gorton, Pelican Rapids, Minn., and John Zimmerman, Northfield, Minn., were honored by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and the

Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) for their many years of service to the organization’s Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting on March 16 in Saint Paul, Minn.

MTGA and MTRPC outgoing director John Zimmerman

MTGA and MTRPC outgoing director John Zimmerman

Gorton and Zimmerman both served nine years total for the two organizations and are past presidents of MTGA and MTRPC.

“On behalf of MTGA, I thank these two directors for their dedication and leadership to our organization,” said MTRPC Robert Orsten. “They have made significant contributions to our

MTGA and MTRPC outgoing director John Gorton

MTGA and MTRPC outgoing director John Gorton

organization and Minnesota’s turkey industry and their commitment to both MTGA and to our industry has been invaluable. They will be missed on the Board.”

###

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

About MTRPC

MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit , www.minnesotaturkey.com, find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey)

,

MTGA and MTRPC Board Election Results Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

(Buffalo, MN)… The Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association have announced election results for each of its Board of Directors.

The newly elected directors are:

MINNESOTA TURKEY GROWERS ASSOCIATION

Region 1

Nancy Kothrade, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar

At-Large Positions

Chris Huisinga, AgForte, Willmar (incumbent)

Scott Christensen, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar (incumbent)

MINNESOTA TURKEY RESEARCH & PROMOTION COUNCIL

Region 2

John Peterson, Peterson Turkey Hatchery, Cannon Falls

At-Large Positions

Chris Huisinga, AgForte, Willmar (incumbent)

Scott Jones, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar (incumbent)

All elected Board directors will serve three-year terms and assumed their seats on March 1. Each of these boards meet approximately six times per year to guide MTRPC and MTGA activities, respectively.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is the agency responsible for conducting and certifying the MTRPC election, which was conducted by mail-in ballot in January. MTGA members voted for its Board election at the MTGA annual meeting on March 16 in Saint Paul, Minn.

Elected directors are listed alphabetically below, along with biographical information:

Scott ChristensenScott Christensen

Scott Christensen currently works as the Director of Breeders, Hatchery and Nutrition Services for Jennie-O Turkey Store and his office is in Spicer, Minn. He has spent 35 years in the food industry, with 12 of those directly in the turkey industry.

In addition to his work at Jennie-O Turkey Store, Scott serves as a board member of West Central Industries and has been a member and volunteer with First Lutheran Church.

Scott and his wife, Cheri, have three daughers – Carrisa, Tess and Jenna.

Chris HuisingaChris Huisinga

Christopher T. Huisinga is the General Sales Manager for Ag Forte. Ag Forte (the flagship brand for Willmar Poultry/Life-Science Innovations) is the largest supplier of day old turkey poults in the world, annually selling 100 million turkeys globally.

Prior to his current role Chris was the General Manager for Ag Forte’s North Division consisting of over 300 employees across 2 hatcheries, 58 parent stock breeding farms, 2 grandparent breeding farms, a vaccine production division, and veterinary services. During his career he has held roles in operations, marketing, finance and business development for Life-Science Innovations and its affiliates and Wells Fargo Corporation in both Minnesota and Florida.

Chris has a BA in Business from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul (Minnesota) and a MBA from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers (Florida). Chris, his wife Joi, and his two children, Ethan and Ella, live in Willmar, Minn.

Scott JonesScott Jones

Scott Jones currently works for Jennie-O Turkey Store as Director of Procurement and has been in the turkey business for over 21 years. His primary role involves procuring and planning how to utilize growing capacity to meet the planned needs of the company.

While going to college he spent every summer working either on a turkey farm or in one of the Willmar-area processing plants. After graduating from Concordia College, Scott returned to Jennie-O and eventually was offered a job in the Quality Control area. As part of the Quality Control group he held several positions in the Willmar processing plants from a Quality Control Engineer to Quality Control Manager in two of Jennie-O’s Willmar facilities. After working in the Quality Control area, he moved into Live Bird Scheduling which he did up until his current position with Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Nancy KothradeNancy Kothrade

Nancy Kothrade has worked for the past six years in the turkey industry, most recently as Live Production Specialist for Jennie-O Turkey Store. Prior to that, she spent two years working at University of Minnesota’s poultry nutrition laboratory where she assisted with multiple nutritional research projects, cared for birds at Rosemont, MN facility and campus teaching and research facility, and performed lab analysis on feed samples.

She worked closely with USDA-APHIS throughout the 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak. In her current role at Jennie-O Turkey Store, she supports growers to analyze and implement new technologies to improve all aspects of the turkey production process.

Nancy has a BS in animal science-poultry production from the University of Minnesota and is currently working toward her MBA through West Texas A&M University. She also is a 2009 graduate of the Midwest Poultry Consortium at the University of Wisconsin- Madison

John PetersonJohn Peterson

John Peterson is the third-generation of his family to grow turkeys on his farm in Cannon Falls.  John returned to his family’s farm in 2008 to begin direct-selling their turkey under their own label, Ferndale Market.  John is actively engaged in both turkey production and the selling of their turkey products.  Today Ferndale Market’s free-range & antibiotic-free turkey products are found in natural food stores and served in many restaurants and college and corporate foodservice settings throughout the Upper Midwest.

The Peterson family also operates an on-farm store, retailing local foods from over 100 producers.  John is currently serving as Chair of the Cannon Falls Chamber of Commerce and has been active in local economic development efforts. John is a graduate of Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD with a degree in Business & Communication.  He and his wife, Erica, have a son, Finn.

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

About MTRPC

MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit , www.minnesotaturkey.com, find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey)

###

,

MTGA and MTRPC Announce 2016-17 Officers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

(Buffalo, MN)… The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) announce the following slates of officers for 2016-2017:

MINNESOTA TURKEY GROWERS ASSOCIATION

MTGA Executive Committee  - Secretary-Treasurer Scott Christensen, President Gene Brownfield, and Vice President Chris Huisinga

MTGA Executive Committee – Secretary-Treasurer Scott Christensen, President Gene Brownfield, and Vice President Chris Huisinga

President – Gene Brownfield, Winter Creek Farms, Redwood Falls

Vice President – Chris Huisinga, AgForte, Willmar

Secretary-Treasurer – Scott Christensen, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar

MINNESOTA TURKEY RESEARCH & PROMOTION COUNCIL

President – Robert Orsten, Orsten Turkeys, Willmar

Vice President – Scott Jones, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar

Secretary-Treasurer – Kim Halvorson, Halvorson Turkeys, Morristown

Officers were officially announced at the annual meetings of the MTGA and MTRPC, held March 16 in Saint Paul, Minn.

MTGA President Gene Brownfield currently raises hens on farms in Renville and Brown counties. Gene is serving his third term on the MTGA and MTRPC Boards and also represents MTGA on the Minnesota Ag Water Resources Coalition (MAWRC. He is serving his third term on the MTGA board.MTRPC Officers: President Robert Orsten, Secretary-Treasurer Kim Halvorson, and Vice President Scott Jones

Gene currently serves as an Elder at Cornerstone Christian Church and is a director in several local and state ministries. He also serves on several boards and volunteers in community activities. Gene and his wife Janette have two children, Dean, who runs the family farm, and Jayne who lives in Waconia. They also follow the activities of three active grandsons.

MTRPC President Robert Orsten has worked nearly 25 years in the turkey industry. With farms in Kandiyohi and Swift counties, his family raises 70,000 breeder turkeys and also grows corn, beans and hay. He is serving his third term on the MTRPC board.

Robert served on the school board for Community Christian School eight years; four years as secretary and four years as president. He is currently a township supervisor, elected in 2008. He and his wife, Rochelle, have five children: Talia, Autumn, RJ, Brady and James.

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

About MTRPC

MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit, www.minnesotaturkey.com, find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey) and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey) 

###

,

Thanksgiving Week Kicks Off with Governor Dayton Talking Turkey

Contact:

MTGA Announces Donation of $12,000 Toward Turkey Product Purchases to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

St. Paul, MN (November 23, 2015) – Governor Mark Dayton continued the time-honored tradition – dating back to the 1940s – of kicking off Thanksgiving week with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council (MTRPC) at the State Capitol today. Also in special attendance was a tom (male) turkey, raised near Morristown, Minn.

This year, the event holds special significance as Minnesota’s turkey farmers have had a particularly challenging year, after an unprecedented outbreak of highly-pathogenic avian influenza broke last spring. A total of 108 poultry farms (104 of those were turkey farms) were hit, but all farms are now well on their way to being back in business.

“Our farmers are rebounding and those impacted by avian influenza have restocked their barns with turkeys – or will be doing so soon. That’s why this Thanksgiving, we give special thanks for many reasons,” said MTRPC President Robert Orsten, a turkey breeder farmer from Willmar, Minn. “We especially appreciate the bipartisan support of the Governor and Minnesota legislature throughout this challenging year for our farmers.”

At the event, Orsten announced the donation of approximately $12,000 to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), which will go toward the purchase of turkey products to be distributed to food shelves and food banks across the state.

“We know there are many families who struggle to put food on the table,” said Orsten. “Minnesota’s turkey farmers are committed to helping do their part to combat hunger with our annual donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota.”

Orsten grew up on a turkey farm, and today he and his family have farms in Kandiyohi and Swift counties where they raise 70,000 breeder turkeys and also grow corn, beans, and hay.

Since 2001, MTGA has donated approximately a quarter of a million pounds of turkey to various areas of the state – or enough turkey to feed the entire population of Saint Paul.

These funds have been raised from contributions by Minnesota’s turkey farmers and MTGA allied members as well as a portion of the sales from MTGA’s Turkey To Go restaurant at the Minnesota State.

HSM, a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota, will coordinate the purchase and distribution of the turkey. One in five Minnesota families struggles to put healthy meals on their tables.  The need for emergency food relief continues to be a problem in Minnesota even as our economy has improved.

“As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s important to keep in mind our neighbors who struggle with food insecurity throughout the year. Every day in Minnesota 9,000 people visit a food shelf because they need help putting food on the table,” said Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota. “Hunger Solutions Minnesota connects people in need with resources through the Minnesota Food HelpLine, and supports local food shelves throughout the state.  The generosity of groups like the Minnesota Turkey Association has an impact on the families we serve throughout the year.”

Approximately 450 turkey family farmers from Minnesota raise about 46 million birds annually, although the actual amount in 2015 will be less than this because of the avian influenza outbreak. Regardless, Minnesota remains at the #1 position in the U.S. for turkey production.

Current U.S. turkey production stands at 228 million this year – which means Minnesota farmers raise nearly 20% of all U.S. turkeys. Approximately 95% of all Americans will eat turkey at Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

MTGA was founded in 1939. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. and is also home to three successful turkey processing companies – Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, Northern Pride Cooperative in Thief River Falls, and Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall.  These companies collectively have created over 2,000 turkey products for the consumer and foodservice markets that are shipped across the country and the world.

Each turkey raised in Minnesota brings $17.46 in economic value to the state – which means Minnesota’s turkeys and the farmers who raise them generate over $800 million in economic activity for the state.

###

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers raising an estimated 46 million turkeys in 2013. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further information, visit http://www.minnesotaturkey.com/www.minnesotaturkey.com or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey and Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).

About Hunger Solutions Minnesota

Hunger Solutions Minnesota works to end hunger by advancing fair nutrition policy and guiding grassroots advocacy on behalf of hungry Minnesotans and the diverse groups that serve them. We connect Minnesota’s food shelves and hunger-relief organizations with the necessary funding, technical assistance and logistical support to reach thousands of Minnesota individuals, families and children in need. Our work is made possible through the generous support of donors across the country; each sharing our commitment to ensuring no Minnesotan will struggle with food insecurity alone.  For further information, visit www.hungersolutions.org/, on Twitter @hungersolutions or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/HungerSolutionsMinnesota