West Virginia’s agriculture community is made up primarily of small family owned and operated farms. Approximately 80 percent of the Mountain State’s 23,000 farms have income of less than $10,000. But the state also leads the nation in its percentage of family-owned farms at just over 95 percent, giving those farmers great flexibility in what they choose to produce and how they choose to produce it. WVDA has worked hard to promote local foods, farmers’ markets and agritourism as ways to increase farm income and preserve West Virginia’s small farms and rural heritage.
With little flat land suitable for mechanized crop production, cattle and specialty crops dominate the state’s output. The number one crop is hay, most of which is grown for on-farm consumption. However, West Virginia continues to have substantial commercial poultry and orchard industries.
In 2011, West Virginia ranked 18th in the nation in broiler chicken production, 13th in turkey production, 10th in apple production and 13th in peach production. The state also ranked 11th in trout production, an industry with great potential thanks to the state’s plentiful cool, clean water resources.
Overall, traditional agricultural production generates over a half-billion dollars in income to the state each year. Value-added agribusinesses are expanding in the state and are estimated to add another $100 million to West Virginia’s economy. A link to the WVDA’s Foods and Things brochure of value-added products and producers is available on the Department’s homepage at www.wvagriculture.org.