MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia's new agriculture commissioner has an ambitious plan to more than double the output of the state's farms within five years.
Commissioner Walt Helmick says he'll do it by growing the existing poultry and beef industries, and by encouraging school boards, correctional facilities and other government agencies to contract with local producers.
No single strategy can work, but Helmick says a comprehensive approach can.
That includes trying to lure producers and processors to southern West Virginia -- a virtually barren agricultural region -- and persuading young people that they can make good money farming.
Helmick told The Associated Press ahead of a Friday night speech at the West Virginia Small Farm Conference that an entrepreneurial spirit will be critical to his plan to reverse a downward trend in production.