Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Governor's Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon

Governor’s 2017 Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon

     The annual turkey pardon offers a time of thanksgiving as we move into the traditional holiday season.  The turkey pardon is intended to recognize the importance of Utah agriculture and the bounty of safe and nutritious food produced by Utah’s 18,000 farmers and ranchers.  Utah’s turkey industry is an important contributor to the state’s economy.  Our turkey industry, represented largely by the Norbest brand, was responsible for more than $100 million in farm sales in 2016.   More than one hundred Utahns participated in an online name the turkey contest and selected “Grateful” as the bird’s name. 

Grateful, a 40 pound Tom turkey was raised by the Tad and Sara Steadman family in Sanpete County, and will live out his life at Thanksgiving Point in Utah County.
     Utah agriculture is varied and prevalent across the state. Our farms and ranches occupy 10.97 million acres of land, or more than a fifth of the total land in Utah.
     In 2016, our state’s farmers sold more than $1.6 billion worth of agricultural products, with one-third in crop sales and two-thirds in livestock and poultry products. With multiplier effects, agricultural processing and production account for more than $21 billion in total economic output in Utah. This represents about 15.1 percent of the state’s economy.  Agriculture also generates nearly 80,000 jobs that are tied to the agriculture sector.  
Turkey facts
•    The average Utahn consumes 17 pounds of turkey per year
•    Utah turkey ranchers sell more than $100 million in products each year.
•    There are 32 family farms that raise and market five million turkeys each year
•    The Norbest turkey company employs more than 500 people; not counting its ranchers
•    Enough turkey was raised in 2017 to supply each Utahn with 45 pounds of meat

Utah agriculture’s national rankings for selected commodities:
Tart cherry production        2
Mink Pelt production           2
Wool production                3
Sheep/Lamb production      5            
Safflower production           5
Peach production              11


Average size farm    (608 acres)    12
Alfalfa                                         14
Hogs and pigs                             15
Milk production    (lbs.)                 21
Cattle/calves                                35