The traditional trappings of Thanksgiving have a significant economic impact on the state of Arkansas, officials said in a ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol Monday.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared this Turkey Week in Arkansas. According to The Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers, the state ranks third in the nation in turkey production.
“Our Arkansas turkey farmers raise 26 million turkeys per year, which provides 525 million pounds of protein annually. Our turkey farmers raise over 11 percent of all turkeys produced in the United States and they deserve to be recognized,” Childers said.
Hutchinson was joined by Penny, a 40-pound turkey for the announcement on the steps of the Capitol. Penny was raised by sisters Kristin and Victoria Lehmann as part of their 4-H club in the town of Center Ridge. The care and raising of animals is one of several hands-on projects young people can do through 4-H clubs.
The declaration of Turkey Week was the first of its kind in the state, said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. He hopes Turkey Week will become an annual event to honor the economic impact of the industry.
“In Arkansas we have over 43,500 family farms. It’s those family farms; it’s that family connection, the generational approach to agriculture that’s going to make us successful into the future,” said Ward.
The ceremony was originally scheduled for the Governor’s conference room, but was forced outside to the steps of the Capitol because live turkeys aren’t allowed in the Capitol.