Biden pardons Thanksgiving turkeys as price of poultry soars

Price of Thanksgiving Day feast up about 20%, according to American Farm Bureau Federation

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President Joe Biden pardoned two large turkeys on Monday, sparing them from ending up on the dinner table this Thanksgiving.

Clad in his trademark Aviator sunglasses and winter coat at the annual holiday ceremony, Mr Biden officially granted a new lease of life to Chocolate and Chip, a pair of birds from North Carolina each weighing more than 20 kilograms.

“After receiving the presidential pardons today, Chocolate and Chip are going to head to one of the nation's great basketball schools and research universities, North Carolina State,” Mr Biden said.

The ceremony was briefly interrupted when the president's German Shepherd, Commander, barked from the second floor balcony of the White House.

"I didn't mean to get you started, man," Mr Biden said to Commander. He instructed his granddaughter not to "let him jump".

While the atmosphere was light and playful, with the president reminding those in attendance that the birds were aptly named due to his well-documented love of ice cream, it comes at a time when many Americans are struggling to put food on their tables this Thanksgiving.

High inflation and an outbreak of Avian flu has led to a shortage of turkeys and soaring prices.

The average cost for dinner this Thanksgiving for a family of 10 is $64.05 — a 20 per cent increase from last year, says the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has been tracking Thanksgiving Day prices for the past 37 years.

“General inflation slashing the purchasing power of consumers is a significant factor contributing to the increase in average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist at the Farm Bureau.

Mr Cryan said the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues were also affecting prices.

The president used the turkey pardoning ceremony as an opportunity to encourage Americans to get their flu and Covid-19 vaccinations in the run-up to the holiday season.

"Two years ago we couldn't even safely have Thanksgiving with large family gatherings,” he said. “Now we can, that's progress and let's keep it going."

According to the National Turkey Federation, Americans gobble down some 46 million turkeys every Thanksgiving.

The birds are typically the centrepiece of the Thanksgiving Day feast, which often includes a host of side dishes including stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Mr Biden's granddaughter Natalie carries Beau Biden Jr as Commander the dog looks on at the Turkey pardoning. Reuters
Updated: November 22, 2022, 5:50 AM