The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

June 10, 2014

Beef sampling event in Lewisburg to help kick off grilling season

LEWISBURG — The public is invited to try West Virginia-grown beef at a “Beef for Father’s Day” sampling event from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in Lewisburg.

Co-sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), the Greenbrier Cattlemen’s Association and the West Virginia Beef Industry Council, the event will be staged in the newly constructed picnic shelter in the county-owned green space at the intersection of U.S. 219 and Arbuckle Lane, just to the north of Lewisburg’s downtown business district.

The green space is also home to the Greenbrier Valley Farmers Market, with vendors setting up each Saturday and Wednesday during the growing season.

Beef ambassador Jaclyn Cleaver will be on hand to answer questions about the industry at Friday’s sampling, one of four such events being held around the state to help kick off grilling season.

“We’re doing these events to honor dads throughout the Mountain State and the beef industry that feeds them,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick. “Beef is the second most valuable agricultural sector in West Virginia, behind only our commercial poultry industry.”

West Virginia’s nearly 11,000 beef cattle farmers produced 138 million pounds of beef worth over $141 million in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Rising beef prices nationwide are part of a four-year trend brought on by extreme droughts in the Midwest and rising worldwide demand for U.S. beef products. Most steak cuts are between 5 percent and 15 percent higher in price than they were a year ago.

While most of West Virginia’s beef producers sell their cattle to feedlots in the Midwest, some market their meat directly to consumers. According to the WVDA, those farmers are more insulated from drought and other inflationary pressures, so the price of their beef is more likely to remain stable.

Sounding a familiar refrain, Helmick said, “West Virginians consume over $7 billion in food every year, yet we produce less than $1 billion. Switching to locally produced and processed beef could go a long way toward alleviating that gap.”

Greenbrier and Monroe counties are consistently among the top five in the state in cattle and calf inventory and sales.

For a list of meat marketers in West Virginia, visit www.wvagriculture.org/Brochures/Foods_and_Things/Meats_Poultry.html.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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