Supply chain issues, worker shortages cause uncertainty for Minnesota turkey farmer

Since the 1950s, Zimmerman Turkey Farm in Northfield has helped make the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner. In a state that claims the title of #1 turkey producer in the nation, John Zimmerman says his farm generates 3.5 million pounds of the bird each year. 

Recently, he's had to deal with some of the same challenges facing many other businesses across the world right now: supply chain issues and a shortage of workers. 

"The biggest impact we've had is just the uncertainty. Are we going to have what we need tomorrow or the next day?" said Zimmerman. "Everything has slowed down a little bit, where we are able to run, but we are just not able to plan ahead because we don't know what tomorrow will bring." 

The farm is still producing the same number of turkeys as it typically does, but COVID-19 left a big question mark when it comes to what size bird families would want to buy this year. 

Zimmerman Turkey Farm in Northfield, Minnesota (FOX 9)

That means there will likely be plenty to go around for Turkey Day, but maybe not in the size you want. Zimmerman also adds frozen birds will be easier to find than fresh. 

"We have to raise the bird to meet that demand and the uncertainty," said Zimmerman. 

However, his family is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. In 2018, a tornado devastated their farm, wiping out half of their production.

Despite the uncertainty over what's to come, he says they'll keep going and growing the birds that fill tables across Minnesota. 

"We will roll with the punches. This isn't anything new for us. We've gone through challenges before, but it does make it hard to plan for the future," said Zimmerman. 

Your Thanksgiving turkey could also cost more this year. The President of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association says the price of turkey is up 17 cents a pound over 2020.