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Iowa Turkey Producers Bounce Back after Rough Year

Despite losing more than 9 percent of the state's annual turkey population to avian flu this year, Iowans will find an abundant supply for holiday dinners. Courtesy: National Turkey Federation
Despite losing more than 9 percent of the state's annual turkey population to avian flu this year, Iowans will find an abundant supply for holiday dinners. Courtesy: National Turkey Federation
November 25, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - More than 1 million turkeys in Iowa didn't make it onto Thanksgiving dinner tables this year. They had to be destroyed because of an avian influenza outbreak earlier this year.

Gretta Irwin, who heads the Iowa Turkey Federation, said there is still an ample supply of turkeys for this holiday season because the outbreak in the Midwest did not affect the rest of the United States.

"The influenza then really did not have an impact on our supply of turkeys for a couple of reasons," she said. "One, just because production is so spread out across the United States, but two, when the influenza did hit in some of these states, exports to other countries stopped."

She said not only is the turkey supply abundant, but the cost is about 1 cent per pound cheaper than a year ago.

More than 9 percent of Iowa's annual turkey production was destroyed by the avian flu outbreak, but Irwin said the 35 farms that were affected soon will be back in business.

"Well, the good news is that Iowa turkey farmers are beginning to fill their barns with turkey poults again," she said, "which is wonderful news for those farmers because they're getting back to doing what they do best, which is care for turkeys."

Irwin said she expects all the farms that were affected to be fully repopulated by the end of the year.

More information is online at iowaturkey.org.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA