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Thanksgiving Week Kicks Off with Governor Dayton Talking Turkey

 MTGA Announces Donation of $9,000 Toward Turkey Product Purchases to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

St. Paul, MN (November 21, 2016) – 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 Melrose, Minn.

“As we look back on 2016 and compare it to 2015, our farmers are thankful for the success we have had this year after rebounding from the impact of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza,” said MTRPC President Robert Orsten, a turkey breeder farmer from Willmar, Minn. ”Fortunately, 2016 has been influenza free for our flocks, yet we remain diligent in our preparation to protect bird health if the virus should return.”

At the event, Orsten announced the donation of approximately $9,000 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 235 million pounds of turkey to various areas of the state, which will feed 315,000 people in Minnesota. In other words, enough turkey feed Kandiyohi County – where the Orstens raise most of the birds – 7.5 times over!

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,” 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 Growers 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. Minnesota remains steadfast 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.

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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 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 www.facebook.com/HungerSolutionsMinnesota