The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is having a birthday celebration – its 100th year.
To celebrate WVDA threw itself a birthday party at the West Virginia State Farm Museum in Point Pleasant on October 1, its Centennial Celebration.
Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass, who, having joined the department as commissioner in 1957, is himself a big part of that 100-year history, noted the event was the highlight of what is actually a year-long celebration.
"At this time of year when we traditionally celebrate the harvest, we can also celebrate the Department of Agriculture, which has been protecting human, plant and animal health and the food supply we rely on for 100 years. And we can do so in a place (the Farm Museum) that is a living monument to our state's rural lifestyle."
It is easy to count the ways agriculture has been an essential component of West Virginia's culture. The state has 23,000 farms. It leads the nation in percentage of family owned and operated farms at over 95%. Annually, the state produces approximately a half-billion dollars' worth of agricultural products. Most of the income from those sales recirculates within the local economy – five times for each dollar, according to estimates.
The leading agricultural sector is the poultry industry, concentrated in the Eastern Panhandle. Next on the list is the cattle industry, which can be found all over the state. West Virginia is 10th in the country in apple production and 17th in peach production.
"Although the WVDA has been around for a century, a lot of people don't really know what goes on here – but they should. Our activities touch every person in the state, every day," says Commissioner Douglass. "In this country – where food has been so plentiful and so affordable for so long – it's very easy to take our food supply for granted. But a quick look at events around the globe shows that we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent."
To learn more about the WVDA and the "year long celebration" of the Centennial, visit www.wvagriculture.org and follow the links.