Virginia turkey production is up this year

turkeysThe number of turkeys raised in Virginia is expected to total 17 million this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s up from 16,800 last year, carving out a plentiful market of local birds available for the holiday table.

Despite the fact that, nationally, the number of turkeys raised this year is predicted to drop 1 percent from last year’s total, turkey production in Virginia rose slightly this year. The finding is from a September survey conducted in major turkey-producing states.

“Overall uncertainty of the NAFTA agreement probably led to some uncertainty in turkey demand as a whole, but cuts of turkey we export are different from those we consume in the U.S.,” noted Tony Banks, commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “I would anticipate plenty of local turkeys will be available for the holidays this year.”

Total U.S. turkeys raised this year are forecast at 240 million. A combination of six states account for nearly two-thirds of those gobblers. The largest turkey-producing state is Minnesota, followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri and Virginia, according to the USDA.

Most Virginia turkey farms are located in the Shenandoah Valley, though there are poultry operations on the Eastern Shore and in the Piedmont region.

“Virginia has always been a major turkey-producing state, even ranking among the top four states before turkey production expanded in other states,” noted Banks.

Virginia Poultry Federation president Hobey Bauhan said the survey shows Virginia is holding its own as a turkey-producing state.

“Virginia is blessed with lots of high-quality, affordable options when it comes to purchasing Thanksgiving turkeys,” remarked Bauhan. “Buying a turkey from a local farmer or grocer supports hundreds of farm families in Virginia.”

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