In a brief ceremony that mixed traditional holiday wishes with predictable humor, President Trump “pardoned” a 36-pound white-feathered tom turkey, Drumstick, from becoming a White House meal.
It was a comic skit on Portlandia: two hipsters asking about the provenance of the locally raised chicken being served in a restaurant. But farce has become fact this holiday season under a pilot program by Cargill that allows consumers to identify the farm that raised their turkey.
The bird-flu epidemic cut into turkey supplies a year ago, but there are no supply issues this year, said Feedstuffs. Turkey production in the current quarter is forecast up by 100 million pounds compared to the same three months in 2015, according to the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC).
Cargill has stopped using an important human antibiotic to prevent disease in turkeys, Reuters reported. It was the latest step by a major meat processing company to drop an antibiotic because of concerns about the the impact on public health. Cargill has not used the drug, gentamicin, to prevent disease in turkeys that supply its two biggest brands, Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms, since Aug. 1, a company statement said. Cargill said it would continue to use antibiotics to treat sick turkeys and to stop the spread of a disease within flocks that include sick birds.
The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will grant poultry processors more time to comply with the agency’s new salmonella and campylobacter standards, giving fowl farmers until July 1 to implement the stricter guidelines.
The average cost of cleaning and disinfecting an egg farm hit by highly pathogenic avian influenza during the 2014-15 epidemic was $8 million, according to three researchers who examined the $879 million the government spent to combat the disease.
Although the turkey was first domesticated by indigenous people in Mesoamerica thousands of years ago, when Mexico now wants turkey meat, it looks north. More than 90 percent of the turkey eaten by Mexicans comes from the United States.
The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, a roasted turkey, will cost about 6 percent more than a year ago, the result of the avian influenza epidemic that swept turkey and poultry farms in the Midwest last spring.
Minnesota will retain its rank as the top turkey-producing state despite a 12-percent drop in output due to the bird flu epidemic, says the USDA's annual Turkeys Raised report. The state is estimated to raise 40 million, or nearly 18 percent, of the 228 million turkeys grown this year.
The turkey farm that suffered the first outbreak of avian influenza in Minnesota is back in production, says the Associated Press. The Pope County farm was re-stocked with fowl on Sunday.