National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Gary Cooper of Cooper Farms on November 26 presented the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Barack Obama. This marked the 67th presentation of turkeys to U.S. presidents since 1947 by the NTF.
“Tomorrow is a pretty special moment when we give thanks for the people we love, and where we're mindful of the incredible blessings that we have received,” said Obama. “We remember the folks who can’t spend their holiday at home, especially the brave men and women in uniform who help keep our country secure. And we celebrate a holiday that, at its best, is about what makes this nation great -- and that's its generosity and its openness, and, as President Franklin Roosevelt once said, our commitment, ‘to make a country in which no one is left out.’”
“This has been the experience of a lifetime,” said Cooper. “It is an honor to represent the many great turkey farms throughout the U.S. and present the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Obama. I am proud to be representing the National Turkey Federation and presenting our company’s and Ohio’s second turkey to the President of the United States, after my brother Jim had the honor back in 1996.”
The Coopers are the first brothers to have served as NTF chairmen and present the National Thanksgiving Turkey to U.S. presidents.
Cooper’s son, Cole raised the turkeys from the family farm in a special barn built behind his home at Ft. Recovery, Ohio where school children visited to follow the progress from day-old poults in July into adult tom turkeys this fall. Public interest in the Coopers' flock provided an opportunity to share the generational progress of the turkey business through the 75-year history of the family’s Ohio farms.
Following recent custom, the president pardoned “Cheese” and the alternate turkey, “Mac.” Names for the turkeys were suggested by school children in Ohio and by visitors to the Leesburg, Vrginia historic turkey farm at Morven Park, where the turkeys have a permanent home on “Turkey Hill.” Former Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis raised one of the largest award-winning turkey flocks at the East Coast farm during the early 20th Century.
In addition to the turkeys brought from Ohio, Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, presented the First Family with two, antibiotic-free, dressed turkeys as part of the president’s family donation to local food banks in observance of Thanksgiving.