Turkey Industry Executives Talk About the Farm Bill

July 18, 2006
Washington, D.C.

Sherrie Rosenblatt, National Turkey Federation
202-898-0100 ext. 227, srosenblatt@turkeyfed.org

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) membership made sure that legislators heard the industry’s desires in the writing of the next Farm Bill by participating in two separate hearings about the bill. Today, NTF Chairman Mike Briggs, Willow Brook Foods, spoke in Cape Girardeau, Mo., while Sonny Meyerhoeffer from the Virginia Poultry Cooperative provided comment in Staunton,Va.

Both gentlemen urged the House Agriculture Committee to consider feed costs, environmental issues, international trade and research when the legislators write the next Farm Bill.

Mike Briggs said, “In many ways, the industry’s outlook is bright, but there are challenges that could darken our horizon. By building on the success of the last two Farm Bills, Congress can help our industry meet those challenges.”

“The turkey industry today is vibrant,” said Sonny Meyerhoeffer. “American turkey growers will raise nearly 270 million turkeys this year, which will be processed into five billion pounds of read-to-cook turkey meat valued at almost $8 billion.”

With corn being a critical ingredient in a turkey’s diet, the industry executives recommended decoupling support payments and allowing farmers to respond to the growing world demand for corn. It is also important to expand land for production by ensuring that environmentally sensitive land is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

The turkey industry accepts agricultural environmental laws as part of its responsibility to be good stewards of the land. However, in the oral comments, both industry spokespersons said that the new Farm Bill needed to help with compliance. One example would be to increase Environmental Quality Incentive Program Funding (EQIP) to the maximum extent possible, which should include increasing the percentage of EQIP funds for poultry operations and examining ways EQIP funding could be used to facilitate projects that turn animal waste into fuel.

Foreign Market Development and Market Access programs are vital to increasing exports of value-added poultry. The turkey industry urged Congress to maintain or increase the programs’ 2002 Farm Bill fund levels.

Finally, agriculture research is vital to the industry’s ability to provide safe, wholesome food. For example, USDA has played a vital role in helping U.S. poultry growers prevent the Asian strain of avian influenza (AI). Therefore, Congress was urged to maintain or increase research funding for food safety and animal disease control.

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) is the national advocate for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities that increase demand for its members' products by protecting and enhancing their ability to profitably provide wholesome, high-quality, nutritious products. Its award-winning web site, www.eatturkey.com, offers consumers, food professionals and the media an extensive library of information including healthy eating and restaurant trends, turkey cuts and purchasing tips, turkey nutrition and cooking techniques, and turkey facts and trivia. Additionally, the site presents a searchable database of more than 1,500 recipes, offers a recipe E-mail program and provides special seasonal and holiday ideas. The National Turkey Federation is headquartered in Washington, D.C.