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(Buffalo, MN) – For Minnesota’s turkey farmers and their families, raising healthy turkeys is the #1 priority.
“For those of us who raise poultry, livestock and crops, farming is both our livelihood and our profession,” said Kent Meschke, a turkey farmer from Little Falls, MN and President of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “Because we live where we work, farming is also a way of life and we feel a deep responsibility to provide healthy, wholesome and safe food products for consumers.”
When purchasing a turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner table this year, consumers in Minnesota can be especially proud to know they are, in many cases, buying a Minnesota grown turkey, raised on one of 250 family turkey farms right here in our state, according to Meschke.
Consumers can rest assured, also, that turkey farmers do their utmost to ensure every turkey is raised with care.
- The majority of turkeys in the U.S. are raised in barns that are environmentally-controlled and scientifically-designed to keep the birds comfortable and to protect them from predators, disease and inclement weather.
- Turkeys are fed a balanced diet of corn, soybeans and essential vitamins and minerals at every stage of their life. Fresh water and feed are available at all times.
- Turkey farmers do not feed their turkeys hormones or steroids. (In fact, all poultry in the U.S. is raised with no added hormones or steroids.)
- Much like people, most turkeys are treated with antibiotics as needed when they aren’t feeling well. Turkey farmers consider it inhumane to not treat a sick animal. (Turkeys labeled antibiotic-free at the supermarket, are not treated with antibiotics.)
Turkey Farming is Efficient
“Turkey farmers feed more people using less resources than ever before,” said Meschke. “Turkeys today produce twice as much meat with half as much feed compared to the 1930s.”
Because of the world’s anticipated population growth, food demand is expected to increase 100% by 2050. Said Meschke: “ Turkey farmers will continue to develop and utilize efficiency-improving technology to ensure they will help feed the people on our planet.”
Turkey Farming is Sustainable
From utilizing turkey litter as the original “green” fertilizer for cropland to generating electricity at a plant in Benson, MN, Minnesota’s turkey industry takes pride in the sustainability of its farms.
For instance, did you know that turkey litter applied as fertilizer to cropland improves the quality of the soil and its ability to hold carbon? And increasingly, LED lighting is used in turkey barns as an important energy conservation measure, according to Meschke.
Eating Turkey is Safe
Minnesota’s turkey farmers and processing companies take very seriously their role in providing a safe, wholesome product to consumers.
“Every turkey processed is inspected by a USDA inspector to ensure the utmost quality product,” said Steve Olson, Executive Director of the MTGA. “Consumers also play an important role in making sure food stays safe to eat. It’s truly a team effort between our family farmers, turkey companies and the consumers who enjoy our products.”
Here are some tips to remember:
- Don’t cross contaminate – keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods. Use one cutting board and knife for raw meat and another for fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Use a meat thermometer and be sure to cook your turkey product to 165 degrees F.
- Refrigerate promptly: Follow the “two hour rule” – refrigerate perishable foods within two hours at a refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees F. or below.
- You can place hot food directly in the refrigerator.
You can find more information about Minnesota’s turkey industry at www.minnesotaturkey.com/recipes-tips, which includes links to tips on purchasing, thawing and cooking your turkey as well as an informative brochure on food labels and what they mean.
The MTGA, founded in 1939 and currently headquartered 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 approximately 46 million turkeys in 2010. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com.