US Turkey Industry Statistics: States With the Most Turkey Industry Jobs

By David Luther
Nov. 21, 2022
Research Summary. On the 24th of November this year, 286 million Americans will sit down with their families to give thanks for the previous year’s harvest.That is, by eating 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving according to a National Turkey Federation report.

We don’t know whom to thank for giving this uniquely American (and scrumptious) bird the dubious honor of Thanksgiving feast centerpiece. So instead, we sorted through government agriculture reports to figure out which states to thank for producing most of the country’s turkeys — and which states have turkeys to thank for creating the most jobs.

We dug through the data and here’s what we found about the biggest turkey producing states in America:

  • One in five turkeys produced in the US is eaten on Thanksgiving

  • The four biggest turkey-producing states generate more of it than the rest of the country

  • Minnesota has the most turkey jobs (for people) with 12,520 and pays the most turkey wages (to people) at $765 million

  • Minnesota raises the most turkeys (40.5 million), but North Carolina raises the most revenue from turkey production

  • Butterball, based in North Carolina, processes the most turkeys each year (1.36 billion pounds)

turkey states

Click to enlarge


For this analysis, we first went to the esteemed National Turkey Federation for data on the jobs and wages paid as a direct result of turkey production.

We looked at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) turkey forecast data to see which states raise the most turkeys.

States That Product The Most Turkeys

The top four turkey-producing states raise more birds than the rest of the country combined, and the top six account for nearly two-thirds of the turkeys produced in 2017.

The largest turkey-producing state is Minnesota, at 40.5 million turkeys — however, North Carolina’s 30 million turkeys generate more revenue from its Butterball headquarters.

Rank State Turkeys Raised % of All Turkeys
1 Minnesota 40,500,000 18.71%
2 North Carolina 30,000,000 13.86%
3 Arkansas 27,000,000 12.47%
4 Indiana 20,500,000 9.47%
5 Missouri 17,000,000 7.85%
6 Virginia 14,500,000 6.70%
7 Iowa 11,700,000 5.40%
8 California 6,000,000 2.77%
9 Pennsylvania 6,900,000 3.19%
10 Ohio 6,000,000 2.77%
11 Michigan 5,100,000 2.36%
13 South Dakota 4,000,000 1.85%
14 West Virginia 3,600,000 1.66%
15 All Other States 23,700,000 10.95%

Largest Turkey Processing Companies

Top 10 Turkey Producing Companies

And as you can see, that’s probably because Butterball also processes the most turkeys, about 14 percent of the turkeys eaten in America

States With The Most Turkey Jobs

The turkey industry directly employs over 112,832 people in the United States, with even more in related industries. According to the National Turkey Federation:

Tens of thousands more are employed in related industries, such as contract growing, product distribution, equipment manufacturing and a wide variety of other affiliated services.

The winner for jobbles (job+gobble) is Minnesota, home to turkey producer Jennie-O.

states with the most turkey jobs

States With The Most Turkey Wages

The states that pay the most turkey wages come in the same order as the ones that employ the most people, though Minnesota also pays the most per job in the top four production states.

turkey states

Turkey Industry FAQ

  1. Who is the largest turkey producer in the US?

    Minnesota farmers are the largest turkey producers in the US. These farmers produce up to 46 million turkeys per year, and surprisingly, many of them are independent. In fact, across the state, there are roughly 450 farmers working at over 600 farms.

    On the other hand, the largest turkey-producing company in the US is Butterball, which is headquartered in North Carolina. This company produces up to 1 billion pounds of turkey each year.

  2. How many turkey farms are in the US?

    There are approximately 2,500 turkey farms across the US. These farms raised upwards of 216 million turkeys in 2021, of which, 46 million (21.3%) were consumed on Thanksgiving that same year.

  3. Is there a shortage of turkey in the US?

    Yes there is a turkey shortage in the US, but it isn’t so severe that you won’t be able to buy a turkey for thanksgiving. Turkey production is still highly active for the most part, but producers have cut back on the number of turkeys they raise for two major reasons.

    The first is a hallmark of 2022, which is inflation. Many turkey producers have reduced the number of turkeys they raise to cut costs, and this has also caused the price to increase.

    The second reason is the effects of the Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak among the turkey population in 2019. Not only is the virus a threat to birds, but commonly can transfer to humans as well. This was also a major reason why turkey populations on farms were reduced.


The United States is the world’s largest turkey producer and largest exporter of turkey products, and it is second in turkey consumption only to Israel.

According to the USDA, over the last 10 years, the percentage of poultry meat consumption has grown more rapidly than red meats — and states are keeping up by consistently raising more turkeys year over year.

For the states in our rankings, that’s news worth giving thanks for.

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David Luther

David Luther was the Content Marketing Editor for the Zippia Advice blog. He developed partnerships with external reporting agencies in addition to generating original research and reporting for the Zippia Career Advice blog. David obtained his BA from UNC Chapel Hill.

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