The number of turkeys raised in Virginia this year is expected to total 16 million, up 3 percent from the 15.5 million raised in 2013, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
That agency’s Oct. 3 announcement is based on a Sept. 1 survey conducted in major turkey-producing states by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture found turkeys being raised on 663 Virginia farms that year. Rockingham County was the state’s No. 1 turkey-producing county, with 2.2 million birds. Augusta County was ranked second with 1.5 million birds, and page county was ranked third with more than 734,000.
The number of turkeys raised nationwide this year is forecasted at 235 million, down 2 percent from 2013. The top turkey-producing state is Minnesota, at 45 million turkeys, up 2 percent from last year. Arkansas has produced 29 million turkeys, up 4 percent from last year. North Carolina turkey production has decreased by 18 percent to 28 million birds. Indiana production has increased 9 percent to 19 million.
Virginia is tied for the No. 5 ranking with Missouri, where production has decreased 6 percent since last year. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, turkeys are the commonwealth’s fourth-largest agricultural commodity, after broiler chickens, cattle and milk.
“Virginia is experiencing modest growth in turkey production, as are most of the leading turkey-producing states,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The turkey industry here is stable and very important to other Virginia agricultural sectors such as grain and soy and support sectors like energy, packaging and distribution.”
U.S. turkey production has increased more than 100 percent since 1970, and so has turkey consumption according to the National turkey Federation. Annual per capita consumption of turkey was 16 pounds in 2012. Although half of the turkey Americans ate in 1970 was consumed during the holidays, that percentage is now closer to 30 percent.