Individuals Honored for Extraordinary Efforts Before, During, and After the Avian Influenza Crisis of 2015


CONTACT: Lara Durben (Email | 763-682-2171)

Presidents Award - Veterinarians

L to R: Dr. Jill Nezworski, Dr. Ben Wileman, MTRPC President Robert Orsten, and Dr. Michelle Kromm

(Buffalo, MN )  … The Presidents of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) have chosen to honor five worthy individuals for their extraordinary efforts before, during, and after the highly pathogenic avian influenza crisis of 2015.

MTRPC President Robert Orsten of Wilmar, Minn., presented his 2016 President’s Award to three veterinarians who were instrumental in helping Minnesota’s turkey industry respond to each and every challenge the HPAI outbreak threw at them:  Dr. Michelle Kromm, Jennie-O Turkey Store; Dr. Jill Nezworski, Blue House Veterinary; and Dr. Ben Wileman, Willmar Poultry Company.

“These individuals lived the HPAI outbreak on a broader and deeper scale than probably anyone else,” said Orsten. “These three were charged with preventing infections, and if a farm became infected they were crucial in the response. They were experts in bird health going in to the outbreak, and now they are experts in emergency response to a catastrophic disease event. They led the creation of industry-driven prevention and control plans, and their input helped improve response for Minnesota’s poultry farmers and to future HPAI introductions.”

MTGA President Gene Brownfield of Redwood Falls, Minn., chose Dr. David Halvorson, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, as his President’s Award recipient. Dr. Halvorson has been a leader in initiating and implementing what’s called the “Secure Poultry Supply Plan.”

Presidents Award - Steve Olson

MTRPC President Robert Orsten, MTGA President Gene Brownfield, and MTGA/MTRPC Executive Director Steve Olson

Said Brownfield: “This plan establishes science-based testing protocols to enable poultry and poultry products from non-infected farms within a disease control zone to move to market or the next production phase. Basically, this means these businesses are able to continue their operations with minimal disruption.”

Without such protocols in place, healthy birds and safe products would need to be destroyed at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers and to those farms/processors. “Dr. Halvorson led the charge in this important endeavor and is well-deserved of this award,” said Brownfield.

Both President Orsten and Brownfield teamed up, as well, to give a joint President’s Award to MTGA and MTRPC Executive Director Steve Olson. Olson led the HPAI response efforts from the organizational standpoint, assisting in bringing together the government agencies involved and Minnesota’s turkey industry. He also was the “face of the industry” as he willingly participated in hundreds of media interviews with reporters from around the world.

“Our organizations are extremely grateful for Olson’s leadership during this extremely challenging time,” said Orsten.

Brownfield concurred: “His efforts helped shape the overall response and his knowledge of crisis communications was instrumental in making sure the correct messages about this outbreak were conveyed to the public.”

The MTGA and MTRPC President’s Awards are given annually to individual(s) chosen specifically for their dedication and commitment to the goals of the organization.

The official award presentation took place at the MTGA’s annual meeting in Saint Paul, Minn. on March 16.

For more information on the MTGA or its President’s Award program, please contact the MTGA at (763) 682-2171 or visit


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 450 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually . Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.


MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey  year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit ,, find us on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey)

Gobbling Up Turkey To Go – a 55-Year Minnesota State Fair Tradition



Lara Durben, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

Ph: 763/682-2171 (office) or 612/554-0920 (cell)


Gobbling Up Turkey To Go – Named People’s Choice for Best Fair Food in 2012!

(Buffalo, MN) … Turkey To Go concession stand couldn’t be prouder of its 55-year tradition at the Minnesota State Fair.Owned by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) with day-to-day operations handled by The Turkey Guys, Turkey To Go has built its reputation as a State Fair mainstay, serving up turkey since 1958!

In 2012, Turkey To Go was named “People’s Choice for Best Fair Food or Beverage”, a new honor bestowed by the State Fair and voted on by fairgoers.

MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson says the goal of Turkey To Go isn’t much different than five+ decades ago – to showcase to fairgoers that turkey can be a delicious, nutritious option for meals all year-long.

Visit us at the State Fair for a Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich!

Visit us at the State Fair for a Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich!

“It’s exciting for Turkey To Go to be named the favorite food at the State Fair last year,” said Olson. “With over five decades of experience serving up a variety of turkey products at at the State Fair, we’re proud of the way our Giant Juicy Turkey sandwich has taken off in popularity.  And thanks to a mobile cart in downtown Minneapolis, two venus in Target Field, and two indoor food court restaurants in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Turkey To Go continues to expand its reach year-round.”

Turkey To Go’s Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwich comes in its original version or a gigantic half-pound option. The concession stand also serves up its popular roasted turkey drumsticks. Topping choices for these items include: bleu cheese crumbles and buffalo sauce; brie cheese and cranberry sauce; and crispy chopped bacon and sweet glaze.

MTGA works in tandem with its partner, The Turkey Guys, to ensure the success of Turkey to Go at the State Fair. While MTGA handles much of the behind-the-scenes details of the operation prior to and during the State Fair and is responsible for upkeep to the building and equipment, The Turkey Guys – better known as Drew Levin and Daniel Perkins – bring in their staff to run the concession stand, including cooking and serving up turkey to hungry fairgoers.

The Turkey Guys may look familiar to folks who stop by the concession stand – they star in a new HGTV show, “Renovate to Rent,” which follows another one of their successful business ventures – buying properties in the Twin Cities, renovating them and then renting them out.

In addition, MTGA is proud to announce that a portion of every sale at Turkey To Go will be donated to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (, an organization that is dedicated to ending hunger. This is the sixth straight year of continuing this tradition of giving back.

“Minnesota’s 250 family farmers are dedicated to raising the highest quality turkey for consumers,” said Olson. “It’s been exciting to showcase Minnesota-raised turkey products through all of the Turkey To Go ventures, and

Everyone loves our Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwiches!

Everyone loves our Giant Juicy Turkey Sandwiches!

especially continue our longstanding presence at the Minnesota State Fair.”

About Turkey To Go

Turkey To Go concession at the Minnesota State Fair is located at 1256 Clough Avenue, next door to the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand.

Turkey To Go’s mobile food cart locations in downtown serve the same menu and can be found most weekdays during lunch at South 8th Street and Nicollet Mall.  A second location at South 6th Street and Hennepin Avenue is utilized during Minnesota Twins’ home games. For up-to-date location information, follow Turkey To Go on Twitter (@TurkeyToGo).

In addition, Turkey To Go has two locations in Target Field during Minnesota Twins’ home games (between sections 112-113 and and also in 318), and is open year-round with an expanded menu in the Baker Building food court (706 2nd Avenue South, downtown Minneapolis) and the Alliance Bank Building food court (56 East 6th Street, downtown Saint Paul) from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. weekdays.

Fans can find Turkey To Go on Facebook (, Twitter (@TurkeyToGo), and at

About MTGA

MTGA 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 250 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 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 3rd, 4th and 5th generation farmers. For more information, visit or  You can also find Minnesota Turkey on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey) and Pinterest (

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MN Turkey Announces Donation of 1,180 turkeys to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

For immediate release

Contact: Lara Durben ( or 763/682-2171

Governor Dayton, Minnesota’s Turkey Farmers Usher in Thanksgiving

MTGA Announces Donation of 11,150 Pounds of Turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

St. Paul, MN (November 20, 2012) – A Minnesota-raised tom turkey 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 more than two decades, of Minnesota’s Governor kicking off Thanksgiving week in Minnesota.

“I want to thank Governor Dayton for inviting us here today and continuing the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving and giving thanks for Minnesota’s turkey farmers, our state’s strong agriculture industry and the abundance of food we provide for the world,” said President and turkey farmer Duane Jaenicke, Roseau, Minn.

At the event, Jaenicke announced the donation of 11,150 pounds of turkey – a total of 1,180 whole birds – to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), which will be distributed to food shelves and food banks across the state.

“It’s been a trying and challenging year for many families who are struggling to make ends meet,” Jaenicke. “Minnesota’s turkey farmers want to do their part in combating hunger with this donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota,” said Jaenicke. “The turkey we donate today will feed nearly 13,000 people.”

Jaenicke runs P & J Farms along with his son, Scott. The operation raises approximately 100,000 to 130,000 hens for Northern Pride Cooperative out of Thief River Falls.

Since 2001, MTGA has donated over 190,000 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state – or enough turkey to feed over 236,000 people. 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 Fair and new “likers” to the Minnesota Turkey Facebook page (

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, there were 3 million visits to food shelves last year in our state. That reflects an increase of 164% over the past decade. Food shelves are an essential part of the safety net that responds to local need-food shelves fill in the meal gap between paid work and nutrition programs. In the last five years alone, hunger has doubled in Minnesota. This has put an immense strain on our emergency response to food insecurity. Long term unemployment has caused previously middle class families to turn to food shelves for answers to their food needs.

Said Colleen Moriarty, HSM Executive Director: “Our food shelves really appreciate this donation of quality protein. Families that visit the food shelves during the holidays will benefit greatly. We continue to look for creative solutions so that no one in Minnesota has to skip meals or eat food that is low in quality. We greatly appreciate the many ways the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association supports our work.”

Approximately 250 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.

U.S. turkey production stands at 246 million – 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 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 46 million turkeys in 2012. 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 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


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