Minnesota Turkey Ushers in Thanksgiving with Donation to Hunger Solutions, Visit with Governor Dayton

For Immediate Release

Lara Durben, MTGA Communications Director
763/682-2171, cell 612/554-0920 or ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com

A Brother from the National Thanksgiving Turkey Flock Makes an Appearance

St. Paul, MN (November 17, 2017) – Governor Mark Dayton continued the time-honored tradition – dating back to the 1940s – of kicking off the Thanksgiving holiday 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 as part of the National Thanksgiving Turkey Flock near Alexandria, MN.

“Thanksgiving is a day for all of us to share with our families and friends, and to give thanks for our blessings,”said Governor Mark Dayton. “This Thanksgiving, I encourage all Minnesotans to serve Minnesota-grown turkeys.”

At the event, MTRPC President Kim Halvorson 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. And 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,” said Halvorson.

“Many Minnesota families don’t have a warm home and big dinner to look forward to on Thanksgiving,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “There are more than 3 million visits to food shelves in Minnesota every year. Volunteering or making a donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota is a great way to help. I’m grateful to Hunger Solutions and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association for their hard work and generosity this season, and every time of year.”

Kim Halvorson and her son raise about 100,000 turkeys on their farm near Morristown each year. They also own and operate Bio Wood Processing, which recycles and reuses discarded wood product, and HF Applications, which brokers, sells and agrinomically applies nutrient-rich turkey litter (made up of bedding product combined with manure) to area farm fields.

Since 2001, MTGA has donated approximately 274,000 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state, which will feed 342,500 people in Minnesota. That’s enough turkey to feed Halvorson’s home county (Rice County) five 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.

MTGA/MTRPC Executive Director Steve Olson also spoke about the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his Alternate, which were raised in Minnesota by Carl and Sharlene Wittenburg and will be traveling to the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony at the White House next week.

Said Olson: “Carl Wittenburg is the current Chairman of the National Turkey Federation and it’s his privilege to raise this special flock. 2017 marks the 13th time over the past 70 years that Minnesota has provided turkeys for the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony.”

This year, the Wittenburgs were delighted to have enthusiastic help from five young ladies of Douglas County 4-H. Minnesota 4-H is part of University of Minnesota. All five Douglas County 4-H members worked together on a Science of Agriculture Challenge project that evaluated several turkey bedding types for effectiveness and turkey comfort – all under the guidance of turkey farmers Carl and Sharlene Wittenburg. After they completed that project, they got to work helping to raise and train the National Thanksgiving Turkey flock, essentially getting them ready for the excitement of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony at the White House.

One of the Douglas County 4-H members – Katie Kent of Alexandria, had this to say about her experience: “This entire project – including our trip to Washington DC – will be a lifelong memory for all of us, and the skills we have learned along the way will benefit us in countless ways.

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.


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