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Minnesota Turkey celebrates Thanksgiving with donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, visits with Governor Walz


Rebecca Groos, MTGA Program Assistant
rgroos@minnesotaturkey.com or 763-682-2171

MTGA announces donation of $11,000 toward turkey product purchases to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MINN. (NOVEMBER 27, 2019) – Governor Tim Walz continued the time-honored tradition – dating back to the 1940s – of kicking off the Thanksgiving holiday with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) at the state capitol today. Also, in special attendance was a lightweight hen (female) turkey, raised near Melrose, Minn.

“I wish all Minnesotans a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, filled with family, food, and
football,” said Governor Tim Walz. “As Governor of the top turkey producing state in the nation, I encourage all Minnesotans to serve Minnesota-grown turkeys at Thanksgiving this year.”

At the event, MTGA President Paul Kvistad announced the donation of approximately $11,000 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.

“Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for Minnesota’s turkey farmers – all about tradition,” said Kvistad. “Today, I am grateful to be able to announce that the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association is continuing our tradition of donating turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota.”

“As we give thanks this week, I encourage Minnesotans to volunteer or make a donation to their local food shelf so more Minnesota families can enjoy a warm Thanksgiving dinner,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “There are more than three million visits to food shelters across the state every year, and many of the visits are children. I’m grateful to Hunger Solutions for their work to end hunger in Minnesota, and to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association for their generosity this holiday season.”

Paul Kvistad and his family raise about 240,000 turkeys annually on their farm, Paul Kvistad Poultry, near Wood Lake, Minn. Broken down, the farm raises six flocks of 40,000 lightweight hens each year. The family also farms 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans.

The MTGA is extra thankful this year when considering the recently received positive news in the global export market.

“The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association is thankful for the mid November announcement sharing that China lifted their ban on imports of U.S. poultry products,” said Kvistad. “Reopening this market is excellent news for the turkey industry. China was the second-largest export market for U.S. turkey products prior to the 2015 ban.”

Since 2001, MTGA has donated approximately 297,000 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state, which will feed 371,250 people in Minnesota. That’s enough turkey to feed Kvistad’s home county (Yellow Medicine County) almost 38 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 Fair.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota, will coordinate the purchase and distribution of the turkey. One in 12 Minnesota households struggle 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 farm families in Minnesota raise about 42 million birds annually. Minnesota remains steadfast at the number one position in the U.S. for turkey production.

Current U.S. turkey production stands at almost 245 million in 2018 – which means Minnesota farmers raise a little more than 18 percent of all U.S. turkeys. Approximately 88 percent of all Americans will eat turkey at Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

The 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 more than $800 million in economic activity for the state.


About MTGA
MTGA, located in Buffalo, Minn., is a nonprofit trade organization that began in 1939 with a mission to foster a successful turkey industry in Minnesota. The state ranks #1 for turkey production and processing in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 42 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most family-owned turkey farms of any state in the U.S. and many of these turkey producers are 4rd, 5th and even 6th generation farmers. For more information, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com or www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey. You can also find Minnesota Turkey on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/MinnesotaTurkey), and Instagram (@MinnesotaTurkey).

About Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Hunger Solutions Minnesota brings people together to find real solutions to hunger through partnerships, programs, and public policy because food is a basic human right. We work with more than 300 food shelves, seven food banks, and leaders in agriculture, health care, business, and government because hunger can only be solved if we all work together. Learn more about Hunger Solutions Minnesota at hungersolutions.org.

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Minnesota propane supply and demand update

November 7, 2019

MTGA thanks the Minnesota Propane Association for cooperating with us to share the following information with our turkey grower members.

For those who have not heard, there has been great demand for propane in Minnesota. Farmers are drying record amounts of corn and therefore, consuming record amounts of propane.

According to the Minnesota Propane Association, propane supply is at very high and near record inventory levels in our country. Propane member companies are aware of the situation and are doing their best to meet the supply and demand.

Below, the Minnesota Propane Association shares the background of the situation so turkey growers are aware and can prepare yourself and your turkey barns for the future.

  • Propane has been shipped into Minnesota over the past days at record rates.
  • In an average November, propane marketers in Minnesota use 190 transport loads of propane per day for the state. This year we are shipping nearly 300 transports per day.
  • However, the cold spring, late planting and less than ideal growing season has produced a corn crop that is higher in moisture and in need of large amounts of propane for drying.
  • Minnesota is experiencing temperatures 10 -15 degrees below normal. We are experiencing December weather in early November. This has added to the gas needed for crop drying and heating homes and farms.
  • Providing propane for home heat and animal confinement remain our number one focus, but the industry will continue to seek all the propane supply we can to fulfill the crop drying needs of Minnesota farmers.

“We have felt it on our farm, and we’ve had to be aware of the situation to not let our turkey barns run out of gas while we’re drying corn,” said Paul Kvistad, MTGA board president and a turkey grower from Wood Lake, Minn. “We’ve been in contact with our supplier to know when the next load is available. Locally, we’ve been getting gas out of Iowa, Kan., Okla..”

The MTGA wants to stress the importance of this topic and make you aware of the situation. MTGA encourages you to talk to your propane supplier to prepare your future inventory. Please realize home heat and animal confinement remain the number one focus for propane usage; therefore, corn drying will more so rely on the speed in which suppliers can ship propane. If you have any questions, contact the Minnesota Propane Association at info@mnpropane.org or call 763-633-4271. Learn more propane updates at https://www.mnpropane.org/.

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An open letter to the Minnesota turkey industry

Over the past several months, the boards of directors of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council have been engaged in the process of restructuring the two organizations with the intent to refocus our efforts on the interests and needs of the Minnesota turkey industry. This process started as the direct result of several members expressing concern regarding the current and future direction of our two organizations.

Immediately after the summer meeting concluded in June, longtime Executive Director Steve Olson resigned from his position.  Not long after, in mid-September, Lara Durben and Teresa Sorenson submitted their resignations and have elected to move on to other opportunities. We appreciate all that they have done for our organizations and the Minnesota turkey industry and wish them well in their new endeavors.  The sudden resignation of these three individuals has left a temporary void regarding the staffing levels in the office but at the same time has provided us with the opportunity to restructure our missions from the ground up.

The members of the MTGA and MTRPC boards remain committed to the Minnesota turkey industry and are looking for ways to streamline our efforts and budget while remaining focused on the priorities of research, grower education, and supporting our growers. We have hired an outside consulting firm to guide us through the process of refocusing our goals in order to come up with a long-range plan.  Once achieved, the process of searching for an executive director to fit our new needs and direction will be one of the primary goals.

We are moving as quickly and diligently as we can and ask our members to please be patient with us as we continue through our strategic planning process and executive director search. We will be reaching out to our members and other key stakeholders throughout this process; please speak up and let us know how our organizations can better serve our industry.


The Board of Directors of the MTGA
The Board of Directors of the MTRPC


Episode #26 – Turkey Grow-out Farms

We’re excited to continue our “Turkey Mini-Series” on What The Cluck!

It used to be, 30 years ago, where a turkey farmer would have breeder hens and toms, hatch the eggs and raise the turkeys all on the same farm.  Farmers have since specialized so they can focus their knowledge on a particular segment.  Each of the episodes focuses on one of these aspects of raising turkeys and talk about the expertise needed to produce safe, affordable and abundant turkey protein.

In the latest episode of “What The Cluck!”, host Steve Olson is joined by Scott Heymer, owner and manager of Red Bridge Farms in Princeton as well as vice president of the Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council (MTRPC) Board of Directors. We focus on what happens at a turkey grow out farm, where either hens or toms can be raised and take different amounts of time to reach market weight. Scott Heymer talks specifically about how housing management, monitoring health, excellent nutrition and modern genetics all contribute to the success of growing out a turkey. And you’ll learn that Scott makes his own turkey feed in the family’s feed mill that was started by his father in the 1960s.


Episode #25: MTGA Summer Conference

In episode #25 of What The Cluck! Podcast, host Steve Olson is joined by Paul Kvistad, a turkey grower from Wood Lake, Minn. and the current MTGA President. The two discuss why MTGA Summer Conference is a can’t miss event and the stellar education program. They encourage all members to attend and use the education program as a resource to bring back useful information to the farm.

In the second segment of the podcast, host Olson interviews John Hausladen, President & CEO at the Minnesota Trucking Association and former MTGA Executive Director (1982—1996). The two discuss MTGA through a historical lens including the proud 80 year history and the evolution of the Minnesota turkey industry. Despite the changes in technology and genetics, one thing remains constant and that’s the people or as Hausladen said it best, “Characters who [are] full of character.”

Learn more about MTGA Summer Conference and register here.
Check out the MTGA Summer Conference education program.


Episode #24: Importance of turkey hatcheries

In episode #24 of What The Cluck! Podcast, host Steve Olson is joined by Demetrio Barajas, a hatchery manager with Select Genetics. The two discuss all aspects of a turkey hatchery including incubation, poult uniformity, walk through the various stages of eggs at the hatchery and share the ideal conditions inside the hatchery for the turkey eggs.

In the second part of the episode, Demetrio discusses the process a poult goes through after hatching until it reaches the customer at a grow out or breeder hen farm. The turkey industry continues to utilize science and modern technology to create the ideal hatchery environment for new poults in addition to carefully timing and monitoring individual steps throughout.

To learn more about Select Genetics: https://select-genetics.com/
To learn more about Aviagen Turkeys: http://www.aviagenturkeys.us


Episode #23: Turkey smoke competitions add flavor to summer

In episode #23 of What The Cluck! Podcast, summer is heating up with turkey smoke competitions as host Steve Olson interviews Beth Breeding, vice president of communications and marketing for the National Turkey Federation, Leslee Oden, vice president of legislative affairs for the National Turkey Federation, and Joey Machado, brand manager for B&B Charcoal.

Learn about turkey as a versatile protein that takes on various flavor profiles, how the National Turkey Federation is investing in barbecue contests to increase the awareness of turkey in the barbecue community, and competition stories and grilling tips from barbecue expert Joey Machado. NTF is excited to bring turkey smoke to a competition near you! Have fun trying your hand at the grill this summer and experiment with turkey to create delicious flavor combinations.

Follow the National Turkey Federation (Serve Turkey) on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and be sure to tag them in your photos of grilling or smoking turkey at home. Follow #turkeysmoke and #tryturkey to join the online conversation.

Learn more:
National Turkey Federation: www.eatturkey.org 
B&B Charcoal: www.bbcharcoal.com


Episode 22: Poultry Health Management School continuing education opportunities

In episode #22 of What The Cluck! Podcast, host Steve Olson is joined by Dr. Darrin Karcher, poultry extension at Purdue University, Madison Taylor, partnership and outreach coordinator at Ferndale Market, and Todd Smith, quality assurance at Daybreak Foods. Dr. Karcher serves on the Poultry Health Management School executive committee and both Madison and Todd are former turkey/broiler and layer school attendees, respectively. The four discuss the opportunities PHMS provides for poultry farmers and their employees seeking continuing education to incorporate into their farm business and how that ultimately benefits the end-user consuming poultry products. Dr. Karcher gives insight on how topics and speakers are decided each year while Madison and Todd share their previous experience attending; the knowledge attendees receive and hands-on skills learned add unique value to the companies represented at the school.

Poultry Health Management School | May 13–17, 2019 | Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Learn more at www.PoultryHealthSchool.com.

Genetics vs. Gene Modification: A Useful Tutorial!

One of our allied members, Hendrix- Genetics (which owns Hybrid Turkeys), posted this terrific video showing a great explanation of genetics versus gene modification. Since not all of us are science people around here, we thought you might like to view it too. It’s a quick video that helps dispel a lot of the confusion between these two terms. Check it out!

Looking for more information? Visit the Hendrix Genetics website and Facebook page! You can find Hybrid Turkeys here and here.

Minnesota Turkey: A Trusted Source of Information

Recently Fair Oaks Farm – a major dairy and pork agritourism operation in Indiana – was targeted by animal activists. Hannah Thompson-Weeman of the Animal Agriculture Alliance wrote an outstanding blog post for Meatingplace.com on Fair Oaks Farm’s response, which was exactly right at the exact right time.

Hannah wrote: “I’d like to commend Fair Oaks on its bold, transparent approach. The company quickly issued a public statement via social media to inform customers and others about the situation and has continued to respond to comments and publish additional content related to the matter, including video commentary from the owners. While the statement has attracted some of the usual comments from activists, it has also drawn out responses from strong supporters of the farm.”

Hannah went on to write that because Fair Oaks took such a quick, proactive approach to the situation, they were able to essentially “own” their own narrative. And interestingly enough, the animal activist group has not even released the video yet – likely because they are rethinking their strategies, according to Hannah.

All of this speaks to the importance of building up a “trust bank” when it comes to customers and consumers.

According to Hannah: “Fair Oaks has made countless deposits to its trust bank over the years through each positive customer interaction, and now the brand is able to draw against that goodwill and be trusted to handle this situation appropriately.”

This is exactly what Minnesota Turkey does each and every day as we create written and video content about growers and their farms, and we post to our social media platforms and our website. We want consumers to get to know the farmers and turkey companies; we want to show them all the ways Minnesotas turkey farmers strive to do what’s right – with their birds, with their products, with their businesses, with their family farms.

Why is this important?  We can look no further than the 2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak or the recent salmonella recall on ground turkey last November to see it makes a difference. Consumers look to Minnesota Turkey as a trusted source of information and their comments to us on social media suggest they are strong supporters of what you do.  And the relationships we have built with reporters over the years has been paramount to making sure our messages are heard.

We take all of this very seriously. We strive to be honest, transparent, and we want to earn that trust. We will continue to build turkey’s “trust bank”. And know that we will be ready to address our industry’s critics if we need to on behalf of our members.