Cargill turkeys presented at US White House




Cargill turkeys receive traditional Thanksgiving pardon

Cargill. Steve Willardsen, President Obama and Cobbler.vertical-dotted-lineCargill. Cobbler.

Cobbler, a 38-pound tom turkey raised in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley by Cargill contract turkey growers Craig and Nancy Miller, received the traditional Thanksgiving pardon. 

Cobbler and the alternate - Gobbler - are now at the George Washington Estate in Mount Vernon, Va., where they will live out their lives. 

Updated November 21, 2012 - Cargill turkey, Cobbler received traditional Thanksgiving pardon. View the video below to learn more about the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon.


View the video to learn the history of the turkey pardon and about Cargill's turkeys.

Cargill turkeys to be presented at US White House

November 2012 - In a tradition that dates back to 1947, when Harry Truman was President of the United States, on Thanksgiving week President Barack Obama will be given a tom turkey in a White House Rose Garden ceremony signaling the start of the holiday season.  Each year, two live turkeys are given to the White House and since 1989, when George Herbert Walker Bush was president, they have been pardoned.


Cargill turkeys to be presented at US White House.The two 2012 turkeys, which will receive names chosen by the White House, are from a pool of Cargill birds being raised near Harrisonburg, Va., in the poultry-rich Shenandoah Valley region where the company has a complex that includes a hatchery, feed mill, processing plant and distribution center.  Once they are pardoned by President Obama, this year’s pair of tom turkeys will live out their days roaming the George Washington estate at Mount Vernon, Va.

At the November ceremony, Cargill Value Added Meats Retail President Steve Willardsen, together with a small contingency of turkey business employees, will be presenting the tom turkey to President Obama for pardoning.  The National Turkey Federation (NTF), based in Washington, D.C., assists the White House in organizing the event.

“We are thrilled to be representing the turkey industry, Cargill and the commonwealth of Virginia,” Willardson said.  “Nearly 90 percent of Americans enjoy turkey on Thanksgiving, a tradition that dates back to President Abraham Lincoln proclaiming it a national holiday in 1863. On behalf of all Cargill employees, we are pleased and honored to present the White House with this year’s turkeys for pardoning.”

Activities leading to the Thanksgiving week ceremony began when 40 tom turkeys were hatched in the Harrisonburg area on July 13, 2012, becoming the pool of National Thanksgiving Turkey candidates.  Three were removed from the pool after an appearance at the Rockingham County Fair near Harrisonburg, while another pair left the pool after an appearance at the Virginia State Fair near Richmond.  A few others made local school classroom appearances and were removed from the pool.

Once birds are away from the pool of candidates, they cannot be reintroduced to the pool for bio-security reasons.  Instead, those removed from the pool have been placed at petting zoos or other “no kill” animal facilities.