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MORONI -- For most Americans, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal is still a turkey.
As you gobbled up your Thanksgiving dinner, if your turkey was a Norbest brand turkey, you enjoyed a local product.
Utah's turkey capital is in Sanpete County, where more than 5 million turkeys are raised every year. The turkeys are raised in quiet Sanpete Valley by 43 independent growers who are all part of the cooperative Moroni Feed Company.
It's a rewarding occupation. Like anything in agriculture it can be a little frustrating, but there are some good things happening here.
Troy Prestwich is a third-generation grower. His father and grandfather also raised turkeys.
"Norbest is a Utah company. It's based right here in Moroni," said Prestwich. "The turkeys that are grown by Norbest are grown by family farms."
It is an industry that is critical to the local economy.
The past few years have been a heavy financial burden on the growers -- mostly tied to very high feed costs, but lower prices at the market for their turkeys. But this year is looking better.
"Prices are as high as they have ever been," said Matt Cook, the CEO of the Moroni Feed Company. "The problem is so are input costs, and luckily the price of turkey is outpacing the input costs. Our growers should make a little money this year, so that's a good thing."
Norbest produces a diverse line of turkey products -- not just the whole bird. Turkey steaks, hams and roasts are big sellers.
Sixty percent of the company's sales are to restaurants and hotels across the country. The rest of the business is in retail -- to grocery stores and at the company's outlet store in Moroni.
Luckily the price of turkey is outpacing the input costs. Our growers should make a little money this year, so that's a good thing.
For turkey growers, there's never a day off. But Prestwich says it's an enjoyable way to earn a living.
"It's a rewarding occupation," he said. "Like anything in agriculture it can be a little frustrating, but there are some good things happening here."
The Moroni Feed Company estimates it will produce more than 100 million pounds of turkey in 2011.