Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey


2016 Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon
Utahns choose Sir Featherbottoms as pardoned bird

 (Salt Lake City)  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, is responsible for more than $75 million per year in farm sales.

     Using a Twitter poll, Utahns chose 41-pound Sir Featherbottoms, a tom turkey raised by the Jason and Carlee Christensen family of Sanpete County to be the pardoned bird.  Sir Featherbottoms received 76 votes compared to Mr. Gobbles who received 24 votes.  Both birds will live out their lives at Thanksgiving Point.

Utah Agriculture

     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 2015, our state’s farmers sold nearly $2.0 billion worth of agricultural products, with one-third in crop sales and two-thirds in livestock and poultry and their products. With multiplier effects, agricultural processing and production account for nearly $18.0 billion in total economic output in Utah. This represents more than 14 percent of the state’s economy.  Agriculture also generates more than 78,000 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 $75 million in products each year.
•    There are 45 family farms that raise and market five million turkeys each year
•    The Norbest brand turkey company employs more than 500 people; not counting its ranchers

Utah agriculture’s national rankings for selected commodities:

  Wool Production                            2
  Tart cherry production                    2
  Apricot production                         3
  Safflower production                      3
  Sheep and lambs                           5
  Sweet cherry production                8

  Average size farm    (608 acres)     12
  Hogs and pigs                              16

Bio on turkey farmer -

Jason Christensen is a third generation turkey rancher from Moroni, Utah.  He and his wife Carlee, have been raising turkeys for the past 13 years.  They are both true aggies, Jason received his degree in Animal Science from USU, and Carlee in Special Education, and Technology Education and Learning Science also from USU.  They have four children who love to get dirty helping out the farm.  On the ranch kids learn the value of hard work, the sense of accomplishment after finishing hard tasks, and how to find fun along the way.






posted: Nov. 21, 2016