Minnesota Turkey Growers Asking For COVID-19 Relief Funding
The turkey industry supports 26-thousand jobs in Minnesota bringing in more than 800 million dollars in economic activity.
MINNESOTA – Minnesota turkey growers and producers are feeling the sting as COVID-19 is causing producers to slow down production.
“It’s been a challenge. It’s added costs to our situation, and in our case as a grower co-op, it’s the independent growers that are affected because they own the plant,” Former Chairman of the National Turkey Federation John Burkel said.
Burkel is from Badger, Minnesota. He is a fourth-generation turkey grower.
He says keeping his employees safe during the pandemic has been vital in being able to stay open. He has workers do temperature checks, social distance and wear masks.
“We saw how quickly the supply chain can break down, and I think that’s the real big story here the real message is it’s kind of a fragile supply chain everything has to fall in line, Burkel said.
Minnesota is the largest producer of turkeys in the country according to Turkey Feeds America. Becker, Otter Tail and Stearns are in the top ten turkey raising counties in the state.
Burkle says the industry will be working full-time to help ensure families are not going to be negatively affected by food prices or the upcoming holiday season.
“Knowing that we will be able to supply that cold bird at Thanksgiving and have families around the country have a normal Thanksgiving is what we are all about,” Burkel said.
Burkel says the industry was not included in the meat industry’s initial corovnairus relief bills.
Because the industry cannot provide projected losses from the winter, they were not able to qualify for USDA funding leaving them without help for months.
Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson and Senate Republicans have been pushing funding bills to help cover losses from COVID-19.
The Senate and the House of Representatives will not be in session through Labor Day as talks for a new funding bill fell through.
“Both sides of the aisle have solutions. We need to get them to the finish line so we can actually see the relief going out to our growers in the industry as a whole,” Executive Director for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association Sarah Anderson said.
The turkey industry supports 26,000 jobs in Minnesota bringing in more than $800 million in economic activity.