National Turkey Federation Elects 2013 Executive Committee

February 16, 2013
San Diego, California

Incoming Officers Reflect Diversity of the Turkey Industry

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) today elected the 2013 Executive Committee (EC) during its annual convention being held in San Diego.  Elected by the NTF Board of Directors, the EC contains a diverse group of turkey industry leaders.  Among them is John Burkel—an independent turkey grower from Badger, Minnesota—who was elected 2013 NTF chairman.

The Board also elected Gary Cooper, chief operating officer of Cooper Farms in Ohio, as vice chairman; and, Jihad Douglas, president of Aviagen Turkeys of West Virginia, as secretary-treasurer.  Steve Willardsen, president of Cargill Value Added Meats Retail in Wichita, Kansas, assumed the position of immediate past chairman.

Burkel spoke before an audience of several hundred turkey industry executives on the convention’s last day.  He is well versed on the issues facing the turkey industry.  A fourth generation turkey farmer, Burkel is director of Northern Pride, Inc., a grower-owned turkey processing facility located in Thief River Falls, Minnesota where he also produced 180,000 hens for the organization’s whole bird market. Prior to his election as chairman, Burkel served on NTF’s Board as vice chairman, and once headed NTF’s Political Action Committee, “TURPAC.”  Burkel has been a member of Northern Pride’s Board of Directors since 2000, and was also a Board member for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association from 1999-2008, where he was president from 2004 to 2005.

The Board also reelected Yubert Envia, Foster Farms; Rick Huisinga, Willmar Poultry Co.; Jim Leighton, Perdue Farms, Inc.; Glenn Leitch, Jennie-O Turkey Store; Walter Pelletier, Butterball, LLC; Ron Prestage, Prestage Farms; John Reicks, Hillshire Brands; Jeff Sveen, Dakota Provisions; and, Carl Wittenburg, Protein Alliance, Inc., to the EC. 

After the Board meeting, the elected EC members reappointed Matt Cook, Norbest, Inc., and Ron Kardel, West Liberty Foods, to the EC as at-large members.


Mary Raguso, National Turkey Federation


NTF is the national advocate for all segments of the $14 billion turkey industry—providing services and conducting activities to increase demand and raise awareness for its members' products, while strengthening their ability to profitably and safely deliver wholesome, high-quality and nutritious food to consumers worldwide. Visit our website on, ‘follow us’ on Twitter and ‘like us’ on Facebook.