Top 8 U.S. turkey producers, by state — and their estimated net losses due to HPAI

Did you know that eight states raise nearly 77% of the U.S. turkey supply? It’s impressive. But when it comes to the impacts of High-Path Avian Flu on commercial turkey flocks — it also means those same states, in most cases, will bear the brunt of lost production value due to the virus.

Turkey

Eating a roast turkey on Thanksgiving is a cornerstone of American culture and tradition rooted in our nation’s very foundation. The United States is also the top turkey producer in the world.

According to USDA statistics, American farmers raised 216.5 million turkeys last year, and the industry is valued at around $5.9 billion. But where exactly are these birds raised? According to the USDA, more than 75% of those birds hail from just eight states.

This year, however, these same states are also seeing some of the most devastating rates of High-Path Avian Flu (HPAI) among commercial turkey flocks—which experts say will lead to record-high prices on turkey just before the holidays and test our adherence to tradition more than ever.

Officials report that 49.05 million birds have contracted HPAI since the outbreak began in February. While wild and domesticated birds can transmit the virus, it has chiefly affected commercial and backyard poultry flocks.

Nearly 600 flocks across 43 states have tested positive for the virus -- 340 backyard flocks and 256 commercial flocks. Of all the commercial operations affected, 181 flocks (and a total of 8.08 million birds) are turkeys, meaning about 16 percent of all HPAI cases in the United States involve commercial turkey producers.

While all Americans will pay dearly for the devastating outcome of HPAI, none are more so affected than the hardworking producers who raise the turkeys that will become the centerpieces of American tables later this month.

Since raising turkeys is concentrated in just a few states, so too are the exponential losses due to HPAI. The top eight turkey-producing states will bear nearly half (45%) of all expected losses — an estimated combined net loss of almost $162 million.

The domestic turkey industry as whole will likely see an estimated net loss of around $353.6 million this year due to HPAI — when factoring in both the estimated year-to-year price increases on turkey and the number of birds lost so far to the virus.

Keep reading to find out which states raise the most turkeys each year and how the producers in these states have been impacted so far by HPAI.

Want to look at our calculations more closely? CLICK HERE to see a spreadsheet of data gathered via the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service interactive map as well as their publication, “Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook,” published in October 2022.

Top Turkey Producers By State/Cases of HPAI [AS OF NOV 7 at 12pm ET]

1

Minnesota - 40.5 Million Birds

While the official state bird of Minnesota is the Common Loon, it could easily be the domestic turkey. Did you know? There are roughly seven commercial turkeys for every person living in the state!

Minnesota produced by far the most turkeys of any state in 2021—raising approximately 40.5 million birds (or 1.04 billion pounds) last year. These Minnesota turkeys comprised about 18.7% of the entire American turkey supply and had a combined value of $857.9 million.

As you might expect: Where there are a lot of turkeys, there are also a high number of HPAI cases among those birds. While only the third-leading state in total instances of HPAI (3.84 million), Minn. has seen the highest number of infected flocks infected (105) and more cases among turkeys (3.58 million) than any other state.

The largest single outbreak among commercial turkey flocks on record also occurred in Meeker County, Minn., affecting 287,500 birds in one fell swoop.

Minnesota turkey producers also stand to lose the most this year due to HPAI—an estimated net loss of around $117.8 million.

2

North Carolina — 30 Million Birds

North Carolina is the second-leading producer of turkeys in the United States, raising 30 million birds last year (or 1.17 billion pounds), which made up about 13.9% of the U.S. turkey supply.

Interestingly, the Tar Heel State managed to make more money than its predecessor, Minnesota, in 2021— garnering $958.1 million—by raising larger birds.

Also, geographically located somewhat away from HPAI hot zones, North Carolina turkey producers have not seen nearly as many HPAI infections among their flocks.

As of Nov. 6, North Carolinians reported 481,570 total cases of HPAI, and approximately 23% of those cases (110,000) occurred in commercial turkey flocks.

As a result, producers across the state will lose an estimated $5.46 million due to HPAI.

3

Arkansas — 27 Million Birds

Known for its abundant park and wilderness spaces, Arkansas is the perfect place for both wild and domesticated turkeys. It is also somewhat of a safe haven for birds in terms of HPAI.

Arkansas was the third-leading turkey producer in the United States in 2021, raising 27 million birds (or 540 million pounds) These birds made up around 12.5% of the domestic turkey supply last year and were valued at $443 million.

Across Arkansas, only two reported outbreaks of HPAI (1 commercial, 1 backyard) have been reported as of Nov. 6. These outbreaks affected 56,470 birds, but none were turkey. As a result, Arkansas is one of only three states with no expected losses due to HPAI.

Wild Turkey

4

Indiana — 20.5 Million Birds

While it comes in fourth place regarding the number of birds raised across the state, Indiana provided the third-highest portion of turkey meat by the pound (836.4 million pounds) in the U.S. in 2021. The state’s turkey industry also has the third-highest production value, worth approximately $686.7 million.

Indiana also has the third-highest rate of HPAI cases. While there have only been 189,857 cases of HPAI there so far, 171,700 (or 90.4%) have occurred in turkeys.

Due to the impacts of the HPAI virus, Indiana producers will lose an estimated $8.93 million due to HPAI.

5

Missouri — 17 Million Birds

Contributing approximately 7.9% of the domestic turkey supply, Missouri producers raised 17 million turkeys (552.5 million pounds) in 2021 with a value of $453.6 million.

Ten outbreaks of HPAI have been reported across the state, affecting 434,830 birds. Of those cases, five flocks affected were comprised of commercial turkeys (139,700 total) and will result in estimated losses of $5.8 million.

6

Virginia -- 14.5 Million Birds

Raising around 6.7% of the domestic turkey supply, turkey producers in Virginia raised 14.5 million turkeys (420.5 million pounds) in 2021. The state’s value of production was $345.2 million.

Virginia is one of the few states where producers are fortunate to see very few occurrences of HPAI (only 420 total) and zero cases in commercial flocks. Producers in this state will likely remain unaffected by the virus in 2022.

Turkey Vulture

7

Iowa — 11.7 Million Birds

While Iowa only raised roughly 5% of all domestic turkeys last year, they produced some of the heaviest birds. With a combined weight of 512.5 million pounds, the typical Iowan turkey weighs around 43.8 lbs! That’s enough turkey to feed around 35 people with just one bird!

Iowa’s turkey industry had a combined value of $420.7 million in 2021. However, this year, the state of Iowa has seen the highest total number of HPAI cases in the country -- 14.47 million so far, which comprises about 30% of all U.S. cases.

While only 2.6% of those cases (373,500) involve turkeys, the number and size of each outbreak among commercial turkey flocks will result in a production loss of nearly $20.86 million due to the virus. (The third-highest net loss of all states.)

8

Pennsylvania - 6.9 Million Birds

Last year, Pennsylvania contributed around 3.2% of the domestic turkey supply. Producers raised just under seven million birds (198 million pounds) with a combined value of $162.6 million.

Among the top turkey-producing states, Pennsylvania has experienced the third-highest number of total HPAI cases (4.31 million). However, only about 1.9% of these cases were in commercial turkeys — so producers will likely only see combined losses due to HPAI of around $3.09 million.

9

Honorable Mention: South Dakota — 4 Million Birds

While it ranks twelfth in regards to the number of turkeys produced, South Dakota turkeys were by far the heaviest and most expensive birds raised across the country—averaging 46.1 pounds each and costing, on average, $37.85, per bird.

South Dakota turkey producers have also suffered some of the most significant losses due to HPAI.

Of the 1,864,890 cases reported across the state, 93.2% (or 1.74 million of them) have occurred in commercial turkeys. Because of this, South Dakota turkey producers will see the second-highest net loss of any state—around $102.2 million—which is more than two-thirds the value of the state’s entire turkey industry in 2021 ($151.4 million).

Marion is a digital content manager for RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel. She started working for Rural Media Group in May 2022, bringing a decade of experience in the digital side of broadcast media as well as some professional cooking experience to the team. She loves hosting dinner parties, hanging out in the backyard, and attending local rock shows with her husband! (Who drums in a band!)
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