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Western state farmers help grow the Thanksgiving feast

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

From Washington’s cranberries to Utah’s turkeys, the only Thanksgiving dish the five Western states can’t grow is sweet potatoes (though it’s been attempted). But thanks to Idaho’s potato and milk production, mashed potatoes are still a possibility and a side of stuffing and rolls benefit from Montana’s wheat production.

Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Washington all give to the Thanksgiving feast. Potatoes, green peas, and wheat benefit the most from the production efforts of the Western States. 44 percent of the country’s potatoes are sourced from the Western states, 35 percent of fresh green peas and 18 percent of wheat. (Production values for cranberries and Turkeys are sourced from 2017, all other data is 2021.)

Iconic Thanksgiving crops, including cranberries, pumpkins, and turkeys also benefit from the Western States. 15 percent of cranberries, 10 percent of pumpkins, and almost 2 percent of turkeys are sourced from the region.

Of the five western states, Washington has the most crop diversity, contributing a statistically significant amount to all the Thanksgiving crops, except Turkey. Idaho is the second most diverse, contributing to milk, onion, potato, and wheat production. Montana’s large farmable area produces the largest amount of wheat.

The most valuable of these crops are milk, wheat, and potatoes. These top three crops generate $8.76 billion for the region’s economy and account for over 96 percent of the Thanksgiving crop production value. These valuable and thriving agricultural sectors create many opportunities for their local communities through employment, input purchasing from local businesses, and marketing and selling crops. Many of the region’s small towns are thriving because of dairy, grain, potato, and onion farmers.

Tomorrow’s festivities benefit significantly from the farmers and ranchers of the western states, so give thanks for the efforts of the western states' farmers and ranchers. The agricultural community of the western states plays an even larger role than setting the Thanksgiving table – farming employs and feeds many families who live here and is one of the largest economic drivers of the region. Policies promoting agriculture and protecting farmers from unnecessary regulation are critical to the success of our region’s economy and to maintaining an available and affordable food supply for the region's families.

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