Minnesota Turkey Meeting features COVID aid to farmers discussion

MTRPC President John Peterson (left) and MTGA President Paul Kvistad (right) present the President's Award during the virtual annual meetings.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson gave an update on Congressional Action.

For the first time in their 81-year history, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) and Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) held their annual meetings virtually. MTGA and MTRPC leadership provided updates regarding their efforts to support fellow turkey growers and the industry.

“Our organizations put a lot of time and resources into research, workforce development, and education that benefits the entire turkey industry,” said Sarah Anderson, MTGA Executive Director. “The annual meetings give us an opportunity to report on our successes and receive feedback from our members for the future. The strong attendance shows our members value these updates and the new format allowed for greater participation.”

Congressman Collin Peterson who represents the 7th Congressional District – an area that represents many turkey growers – was the featured guest speaker. Peterson briefly spoke on his involvement with facilitating COVID-19 relief for turkey growers and the next COVID aid bill. 

“The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payment is based on how much damage was done by the coronavirus,” said Congressman Peterson. “There were a number of folks who didn’t get treated correctly for the program, in my opinion, including turkey growers.”

For the next round of COVID-19 related assistance, Peterson has drafted language giving U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue the authority to compensate producers for euthanizing animals – much like what growers experience during times of disease outbreaks. In his speech, Peterson also said one of the outstanding issues is that payments are limited to independent producers.

“There is going to be some effort to clarify this over at the Senate and if there is better language, I am all for it and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure that ends up in the final deal,” said Peterson. 

MTGA is a nonprofit trade organization that began in 1939 with a mission to foster a successful turkey industry in Minnesota. The state ranks number one for turkey production in the U.S. with its 450 turkey farmers. Minnesota has the most family-owned turkey farms of any state in the U.S. and many are fourth, fifth, or sixth generation farmers.

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