Turkey producers an important part of Midwest agriculture

Five of the top poultry production states in the U.S. are in the Midwest, led by Minnesota. In Illinois, the turkey industry has a smaller, but still very important footprint. Poultry is big business, contributing nearly $600 billion annually to the U.S. economy. That represents three percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. 

In Illinois, there is a concentration of independent growers in the Peoria and Morton areas, along with a couple of USDA-inspected processing plants. The lack of processing plants is a major impediment in expanding the poultry industry in Illinois. The cost of building a plant is very expensive, and finding enough employees willing to work is another issue. Most Illinois turkey producers are contract growers for large, integrated farms in Iowa and Indiana. 

Illinois is home to a number of turkey farms.Yordy Turkey Farm in Morton produces turkeys through a 100 percent natural lifecycle. Turkeys are raised in an open, climate-controlled atmosphere and fed all-natural corn and grain. The turkeys at Yordy receive zero hormones, antibiotics or artificial growth enhancers. Every turkey is USDA state inspected and certified. An assortment of turkey products can be purchased directly from Yordy Turkey Farm. 

Kauffman Turkey Farms is located in Waterman, which is south of DeKalb and west of Aurora. Kauffman, or HoKa, is one of the last remaining independent, family-owned and operated turkey farms in the country with its own dressing plant. Kauffman has been providing fresh dressed turkeys to the Northern Illinois area for over 80 years. Birds are raised with the emphasis on quality, meaning the turkeys grow more slowly and develop a richer flavor and denser texture. 

Roth Turkey Farm is located in the Livingston County village of Forrest. Roth is an independent, fourth-generation, family-owned and operated turkey farm. Fresh turkeys are offered to retail customers during the holiday season. The roots of Roth Turkey farm can be traced back to 1965, when Les and Ruth Roth purchased the property and began raising poultry. In 1988, turkeys began being raised in a remodeled facility and another building was constructed. 

The United States is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products. Total turkey production in 2020 was 224 million, equal to 7.3 billion pounds. Turkey consumption has nearly doubled since 1970, with ground turkey seeing a major increase in popularity as a nutrient-rich, lower-fat substitute for ground beef. Minnesota produces 40 million turkeys per year, followed by North Carolina (31), Arkansas (30), Indiana (20) and Missouri (16.5). Illinois produces about five million turkeys annually.