The poultry industry continues to have a major impact on the economy of Hardy County, the South Branch Valley and the state of West Virginia. We would like to provide better numbers, but the most recent we could find were for 2012.
According to the agriculture census, sales for poultry and eggs amounted to $401,439,000 in West Virginia. That’s nearly half the total sales of all agricultural sales in the state and places poultry and eggs at the top of agricultural income.
That’s good news for our area since the majority of the poultry growing and processing operations are right here in the South Branch Valley.
But there’s even better news. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, “Poultry is expected to become the world’s most consumed meat over the next five years…The world’s appetite for chicken is growing faster than any other meat, while pork consumption is slowing even in its most popular markets.”
Again, according to the Post, poultry is the cheapest and most accessible meat and there are no cultural barriers like those that affect pork.
There is a downside which is not news to our local poultry industry. The Post says that the poultry industry has been tied to a number of animal rights’ violations. But something we didn’t know, here in the United States, “chickens and turkeys are not afforded the same legal protections against abusive treatment in slaughterhouses that cattle and swine enjoy.” Something we need to correct.
The Post, however, notes something that our “friends” in the EPA probably don’t want to hear. “…the poultry industry is much kinder to the environment than that of most other kinds of meat. Per kilogram consumed, chicken’s carbon footprint is roughly half that of pork, a quarter that of beef, and nearly a seventh that of lamb.”