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How Did Minnesota Become The Top Turkey Producing State?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This year, Americans will eat 46 million turkeys over Thanksgiving. And, unless the your Thanksgiving turkey is a Butterball, there's a good chance it's from Minnesota.

So, how did Minnesota become the top turkey producing state? Good Question.

Minnesota farmers raise 45 million turkeys a year. That's followed by North Carolina (34M), Arkansas (26M), Indiana (20M) and Missouri (19M). Butterball is headquartered in North Carolina.

Minnesota has 600 turkey farms and exports 90 percent of its turkey products out of state. It also sends meat to Mexico, China and Canada.

The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) traces the state's #1 status to a few reasons. First, they say Minnesota has several multi-generational farm families who have passed down their knowledge and expertise.

Second, Minnesota had a number of entrepreneurs who invested into turkey production, including the founder of Jennie-O and Willmar Poultry Company. WPC, now Select Genetics, went on to be the largest turkey hatchery company in the world.

Third, Minnesota grows lots of soybeans and corn – the main ingredients in a turkey's diet. And, finally, the MTGA says the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Board of Animal Health offered early and continued support.

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