Thanksgiving Week Kicks Off with Governor Dayton Talking Turkey


Lara Durben, MTGA Communications Director
763/682-2171, cell 612/554-0920 or
UPDATED:  11/24/14, 1:30 p.m.

St. Paul, MN (November 24, 2014) – Governor Mark Dayton welcomed the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and two hen turkeys to the State Capitol today. The event marks a time-honored tradition, going back since the 1940s, of Minnesota’s Governor kicking off Thanksgiving week.

This year, the event holds special significance as MTGA is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014. The organization was formed in 1939 by a group of turkey farmers who saw a need to come together to network and learn from each other, as well as advocate for turkey as a year-round protein option.

“Today we give thanks for our state’s strong agriculture industry and we reflect on the long and storied history of Minnesota’s turkey farmers. We are grateful our ability to provide food to a growing world population – including the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, the turkey,” said MTGA President and turkey farmer John Gorton, Pelican Rapids, Minn.

At the event, Gorton announced the donation of approximately 13,000 pounds of turkey (value – approximately $13,000) to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), which will 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 Gorton. “Minnesota’s turkey farmers are committed to helping do their part to combat hunger with our annual donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota.”

The turkey donated today will feed 19,500 people.

Gorton is a 3rd generation family farmer who raises about 125,000 turkeys each year.

Since 2001, MTGA has donated 215,000 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state – or enough turkey to feed over 275,000 people (roughly the population of Saint Paul).  This year, this donation provides turkeys to families in communities such as Cannon Falls, Faribault, Melrose, Willmar, Thief River Falls, Frazee, Perham and Buffalo.

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.

“Hunger Solutions Minnesota is answering the call to end hunger with our Food HelpLine and new initiatives like the mobile food shelf network”, said Colleen Moriarty, Executive Director at Hunger Solutions.  “The unwavering generosity of Minnesota family farmers and the Minnesota Turkey Association has ripple effects throughout the state and onto the kitchen tables of needy Minnesota families.”

Approximately 450 turkey family farmers from Minnesota raise about 46 million birds annually, which places Minnesota at the #1 position in the U.S. for turkey production.

Current U.S. turkey production stands at 235 million this year – which means Minnesota farmers raise nearly 20% of all U.S. turkeys. U.S. turkey production was down about 3% overall this year; Minnesota saw a smaller drop in the 1-2% range. 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 or find us on Facebook: 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, on Twitter @hungersolutions or on Facebook,