Governor Dayton, Senator Klobuchar Help Send Off Presidential Turkeys to White House for Pardon

MTGA Also Announces Donation of $11,200 to Hunger Solutions Minnesota


Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lara Durben, MTGA Communications Director, 763/682-2171 or

St. Paul, MN (November 18, 2011) – Two very Presidential turkeys and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) paid a visit to Governor Mark Dayton today at the State Capital in Saint Paul. The event was a time-honored tradition, going back at least two decades, of Minnesota’s Governor unofficially kicking off Thanksgiving week in Minnesota. Also at the event was honored guest Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The Presidential turkeys are part of a flock of about 30 turkeys (all male, or toms), being raised in Willmar, Minn. by four FFA students and Willmar Poultry Company.  Two of the best-behaved turkeys in the flock will be chosen to travel to Washington D.C. next week to be pardoned by President Obama at the White House – continuing a 64-year tradition of the National Thanksgiving Turkey event.

“It is a huge honor for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its Alternate to come from Minnesota this year,” said Steve Olson, MTGA Executive Director. “The White House Thanksgiving event has been a tradition since President Truman so our turkey farmers in Minnesota feel blessed to be part of such an amazing history. It’s also been a wonderful opportunity to highlight what farmers do each and every day to ensure safe, delicious and affordable turkey products.”

Current National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Richard Huisinga, an executive with Willmar Poultry Company, will present the turkey to President Obama. Also attending the ceremony in the Rose Garden will be Huisinga’s wife, Randi and their three children; the four FFA students from Willmar High School: Brianna Hoover, Brenna Ahlquist, Val Brown and Preston Asche; their FFA advisor/teacher Neal Pearson of Willmar High School; and MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson.

Huisinga is the 10th NTF Chairman from Minnesota to present the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the President.

At the Governor’s event on Friday, MTGA President Jeff Lindell, a turkey farmer from Cannon Falls, Minn., announced the donation of $11,200 to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), which will be used to buy Minnesota grown turkey products for distribution to food shelves across the state. This is enough turkey to feed over 13,000 people. These funds have been raised from contributions by Minnesota’s turkey farmers and our allied members as well as a portion of the sales from our Turkey To Go restaurant at the Minnesota State Fair; and new “likers” to our Minnesota Turkey facebook page. Turkey To Go’s mobile food cart in downtown Minneapolis also has pledged to donate turkey to families in need through HSM with every order of carved turkey they receive by Thanksgiving.

“Many families this year continue to be challenged by their economic situation this year, and Minnesota’s turkey farmers want to do their part in combating hunger with this donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota,” said Lindell.

Lindell raises approximately 50,000 tom turkeys annually for the Dick Peterson family and Ferndale Market near Randolph. He also grows corn and soybeans,and is a member of the Randolph FFA Alumni Association as well as the Dakota County Farm Bureau.

HSM, a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota, will coordinate the purchase and distribution of the turkey.

According to HSM, hunger in Minnesota has doubled in the last 5 years.  There is a steep rise in need for emergency food programs.  Food shelf directors report seeing an increase in veterans and highly-educated people seeking assistance. There are a lot of people coming into food shelves seeking advice because they have now run upon the end of their unemployment insurance (more than 99 weeks) and have nowhere else to turn.

Said Colleen Moriarty, HSM Executive Director: “This generous gift will go a long way to assist working families that are making less and cannot afford healthy food for their children during the holidays and beyond.  One in eight children in Minnesota live in food insecure households. We greatly appreciate the continued support of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.”

Since 2001, MTGA has donated nearly 180,000 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state – or enough turkey to feed over 223,000 people.  This year, the donation of money will provide turkeys to families in communities such as Cannon Falls, Faribault, Melrose, Willmar, Thief River Falls, Frazee, Perham and Buffalo.

Approximately 250 turkey family farmers from Minnesota raise about 46 million birds annually, which places Minnesota squarely at the #1 position in the U.S. for turkey production.  U.S. turkey production stands at 246 million – which means Minnesota farmers raise nearly 20% of all U.S. turkeys.

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 nearly $12 in economic value to the state.


About MTGA

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 an estimated 45 million turkeys in 2010. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further information, visit or find us on Facebook:

About Hunger Solutions Minnesota

Hunger Solutions Minnesota is a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota. We take action to assure food security for all Minnesotans by supporting over 300 agencies that provide food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassroots advocacy. HSM advocates for the maximum use of all federal public nutrition dollars available and works to improve low income Minnesotans’ access to all nutrition programs. The HSM Minnesota Food HelpLine (1-888-711-1151) helps enroll low-income Minnesotans in the Food Support (Food Stamps) program and helps callers find emergency food assistance in their area. For further information, visit , on Twitter @hungersolutions or on Facebook

About Willmar Poultry Company

For over 65 years, Willmar Poultry Company has led the turkey industry in breeding and hatchery technologies. Its Willmar, Minnesota hatchery is the world’s largest and most advanced, and hatches upwards of 160,000 turkey poults a day. WPC and its sister companies employ nearly 1,600 people in five states. WPC has remained family-owned and operated since 1945.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *