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An Unhappy Thanksgiving for Turkey Farmers

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday that Americans celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November. This autumn festival is traditionally celebrated with family and friends over a big meal that takes hours to prepare.

The meal usually includes turkey served along with dishes like cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie. The turkey is usually seasoned and roasted in an oven, but some people fry the bird in oil or cook it on a grill.

The National Turkey Federation estimates that Americans ate 46 million of the birds during last year's holiday. About two-thirds of the turkeys raised in America came from six states: Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana. Turkey is eaten all year, not just during the holidays.

Americans have been consuming an increasing amount of turkey although chicken, beef and pork are still more popular. One industry official says 2012 will not be as profitable for turkey farmers as past years have been. Feed costs are up while turkey prices are about the same.

The Pilgrims' feast in 1621 is often considered the nation's first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims were early settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts. They held a three-day feast to celebrate a good harvest.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November a national day of thanksgiving. As the Great Depression was ending, President Franklin Roosevelt established the holiday on the month's fourth Thursday. He did not want to shorten the Christmas holiday shopping season in years when November has a fifth Thursday as it did this year.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 20Nov2012)