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6 things turkey farmers want you to know

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and United States turkey farmers are proud to cater your holiday feast. Turkey farmers have a passion for raising turkeys and know consumers have questions about where their food comes from and how it is raised, so here are a few things turkey farmers want to share with you:

Your “perfect” turkey is at a grocery store near you.

Many of us have already purchased our turkey for Thursday, but imagine you’re at the grocery store picking out your Thanksgiving turkey.  How do you decide which is the “perfect” one to share with your family? Maybe you look at price, size, brand, if it has a certain label, or a combination. It can be a lot to take in when you just want to buy a turkey that will make your family happy around the dinner table. No matter which turkey you place in your cart, know that a turkey farmer would also feed the turkey you chose to his/her family.

Animal care is a top priority among turkey farmers.

Animal health and well being are important to turkey farmers. Turkeys have 24/7 access to fresh water in climate-controlled barns, which provide protection from predators, weather and disease. They are fed a balanced diet of corn and soybean meal mixed with vitamins and minerals to help them grow to be healthy and strong. Best-management practices help ensure turkeys are well taken care of from birth to market.

National Turkey Federation animal care guidelines

National Turkey Federation animal care guidelines

Presenting the National Thanksgiving Turkey is an honor and a holiday tradition for turkey farmers.

Every year there is a presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the President of the United States. The National Turkey Federation has presented turkeys to the president since Truman was in office. Last year’s Presidential Turkey came from Cooper Farms in Ohio and this year’s turkey is from Foster Farms in California.

“Raising and presenting the 2014 National Thanksgiving Turkey was a true honor and experience I will never forget,” said Gary Cooper, COO of Cooper Farms. “They were raised by my son Cole with his wife and son, Case.”

Turkey farmers are increasingly committed to transparency.

Being transparent and “opening the barn doors” is important for many turkey farmers as more people become interested in their food, but biosecurity is also important. It is a farmer’s responsibility to provide a safe and abundant turkey supply for everyone to enjoy, but they also realize consumers have questions.  To overcome this obstacle without putting the turkeys health or safety of our food supply at risk, farmers have adopted innovations to show you the farm to fork process. These innovations include: tours, virtual tours and videos.

Turkey farmers are committed to environmental stewardship.

Turkey farmers are responsible stewards of the land, water and air. They use modern agriculture methods to provide a safe, affordable and healthy protein to feed your family.  Little land is devoted to production because most turkeys are raised inside barns, but the biggest potential impact is from the use of the bedding material (litter) used in the turkey houses. Litter is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and is recycled as an organic fertilizer on farm fields!

Turkey isn’t just for November!

Turkey steals the spotlight in November, but the lean protein is great for eating all year long! It is versatile, nutritious, affordable and makes a great addition to any breakfast, school lunch or family dinner! Did you know one turkey breast only has 120 calories with one gram of total fat?

Nutrition chart from The National Turkey Federation

Nutrition chart from The National Turkey Federation.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your turkey (all year long). If you have questions about turkeys and how they are raised, ask a turkey farmer!

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A lot to be proud of

The Animal Agriculture Alliance’s College Aggies Online (CAO) Scholarship program is a nationwide initiative aimed at helping college students and collegiate agriculture clubs utilize social media and communications to share agriculture’s story. One of the competitions was to write a blog post introducing themselves and sharing why they are passionate about agriculture. The winner of the blog post competition was Allyson Trimble, a junior studying animal science at the University of Florida. 

Allyson Trimble

Allyson Trimble

Look at a map and find the state of Florida, once you find it locate the blue dot in the center of South Florida; that is the one and only Lake Okeechobee and the place I call home. My name is Allyson Trimble I am 21 years old and an Agricultural enthusiast and this is my story.

I grew up in Okeechobee County in the sunshine state of Florida. It is a relatively large county but most of it is open land, allowing the cattle population to far exceed the number of people.

I was raised on my families’ small cattle farm that has about 40 brood cows. The herd is made up of old show heifers that my sisters and I raised through our time in 4-H and FFA.  I really enjoyed showing cattle and I now enjoy learning about the ins and outs of running a cattle operation as my parents give me more management responsibilities.

Allyson looking over her family's cattle

Allyson looking over her family’s cattle

I started as a member of 4-H when I was 8 years old, I then joined FFA my sixth grade year and continued active membership until my senior year of high school.  Joining the FFA Organization was the greatest thing I did with my time in school. The FFA gave me invaluable leadership and communication skills. I will never be able to replace the memories, the education and the friendships I made during my time as a member.

Allyson with her family

Allyson with her family

I owe all that I am to my family, the agricultural industry of Okeechobee County, and my membership in 4-H and FFA.  Without all of these I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I wouldn’t have developed a passion for the agricultural industry.

I am currently a junior at the University of Florida where I am studying animal science with a focus in beef production. As most college students know, a common question is “What do you want to do?” Honestly, I don’t know the answer to the question; and that used to scare me, but I now realize a lot of people feel the same way. All I know is that I want to do something in the agriculture industry, preferably in the beef cattle segment. I want to give back to an industry that has given so much to me, I also want to love what I get to wake up and do day after day.

Gator Collegiate Cattle Women

Gator Collegiate Cattle Women

My roommate is a College Aggies Online ambassador and she convinced me to participate in this year’s competition, I am glad she did. I am participating with the Gator Collegiate Cattle Women. I have enjoyed being able to advocate for a new sector of the industry each week as well as sharpen my advocating and communication skills. This contest constantly reminds me how diverse the agricultural industry is, and that there are so many things to learn.

As much as I would like to be towards the top in the final placing’s, I mainly hope to make a difference in consumer perception of the agricultural industry. I see so many misconceptions shared through social media, so I hope that my post will make people think about and educate themselves on the things they share.

College Aggies is the reason I am writing to all of you today. One of the mini challenges was to write a blog post telling our stories. I was very excited when I found out that my entry won. I’ve always felt like my story is simple, so it was refreshing to see that someone enjoyed what I had to say.

My story is far from complete, but I can’t wait to see where I end up in this world.

kissing cow