Governor pardons two turkeys
Arkansas ranks second nationally in turkey production
Turkey production essential to state’s agricultural economy
LITTLE ROCK – At Thanksgiving, it’s all about the turkey — but at least two lucky birds have been spared from being the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders pardoned “Hank” and “Davie” during a Turkey Week Celebration on Friday at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. The event, coordinated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, recognizes the value that turkey producers bring to the state’s agricultural industry.
“We want to continue to support, grow and do all we can to increase the agriculture industry here in Arkansas,” Sanders told a group of more than 100 industry officials, legislators, members of Arkansas 4-H and Future Farmers of America and other guests.
Turkeys in Arkansas
“Agriculture is our state’s largest industry, and turkey production plays a role in that,” Arkansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward said.
Poultry production is the leading agricultural industry in Arkansas. Currently, Arkansas ranks second in the nation for turkey production, according to the Poultry Federation. Last year, 26 million turkeys were processed in Arkansas, equating to 556 million pounds of poultry, valued at $594 million, Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers said.
“We’re fortunate to have two of the largest turkey producers operating plants here in Arkansas,” Childers said, referring to Cargill and Butterball. “Every whole turkey sold by Butterball at Thanksgiving and Christmas is processed here in Arkansas.”
Cargill has also donated a quarter of a million pounds of poultry to Arkansas’ food banks, Sanders said.
This year’s lucky turkeys were raised by Jackson Barber, 15, of Cabot, who has provided the turkeys for the governor’s pardon for three years now. Barber, son of Tom and Scharidi Barber, is part of FFA and Arkansas 4-H.
While it was Barber’s third turkey pardon in Arkansas, it was Sanders’ first as governor, and she called the pardons a “fun and nonpartisan way to encourage Americans to give thanks.”
Sanders said she was pardoning Davie and Hanks “so they can enjoy a peaceful Thanksgiving.”
“We don’t want to see them anywhere other than right here,” she said.