WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The National Turkey Federation (NTF) on Monday showed off the turkeys that will be presented to President Donald Trump on Tuesday for a pardoning ceremony.
The turkeys, named Corn and Cob, were raised by NTF Chairman Ron Kardel, an Iowa turkey producer, and were introduced at a news conference at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, one of the most historic in Washington.
The White House again is sponsoring a social media poll to determine which of the two turkeys will be considered the official White House turkey and which one will be the alternate.
President Donald Trump is expected to pardon both turkeys. Following the presentation, both turkeys will reside at their new home on the campus of Iowa State University.
Gretta Irwin, the executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation, noted this is the 73rd time NTF will present turkeys to the president. After the turkeys arrive at Iowa State, the pardoned turkeys will "interact" with students in the animal science and veterinary programs at the university, Irwin said.
Kardel, who farms near Walcott, Iowa, is a sixth-generation Iowa farmer and the eighth Iowa farmer to present turkeys to a president.
In an interview, Kardel told DTN COVID-19 has had a major impact on the industry.
Workers in some plants became ill and producers have "put a lot of money" into personal protective equipment for employees and building barriers between individual workers. But Kardel stressed that plant owners "do not criticize anyone who has not come to work" due to illness.
Kardel said the biggest impact has come from the closure of restaurants and other food service venues. That required turkey meat to be "rerouted and redirected" to grocery outlets, and there has been a reduction in production in order to avoid a buildup of frozen turkeys, Kardel said.
But he said sales of organic, free-range and antibiotic-free turkeys have remained strong and those producers have not had to cut back as much.
Asked about reports that consumers want smaller turkeys this year because family gatherings will be smaller, Kardel said that the industry has attempted to meet that change in consumer demand by selling turkey parts, including bone-in breasts. But he said he has encouraged people to buy a turkey "that's way too big" so that they will have leftovers.
Asked what the turkey industry would expect or want from a Biden administration, Kardel declined to comment, saying there would be a time for political discussion in the future.
"This event is not political," Kardel said, adding he wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
-- National Turkey Federation Welcomes Presidential Turkeys (video): https://www.youtube.com/….
-- White House — 2020 Turkey Pardoning: https://www.whitehouse.gov/….
-- 2020 Thanksgiving Turkeys Arrive (video): https://www.facebook.com/….
-- Vote for the National Thanksgiving Turkey: https://whitehouse.typeform.com/….
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at email@example.com
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