Moorefield, WV (WOAY) – Nearly half of West Virginia’s poultry growers have reached retirement age, and more than one-third of those growers have plans to retire within the next five years. However, 56% of growers will retire without a succession plan, which could be detrimental to West Virginia’s poultry industry and economy. The West Virginia poultry industry annually contributes over $100 million to the state.
Orion Strategies conducted a statewide census of growers in consultation with WVU Extension Service, the West Virginia Farm Bureau, and the West Virginia Poultry Association. The census showed the poultry capitol of the state, Hardy County, is experiencing high numbers of retiring growers with 59% of growers age 60 and up.
According to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Hardy County provides 43% of the state’s poultry, suggesting the industry will soon face a drastic change without a plan to supplement jobs. In addition, four out of five growers in Hardy county work in agriculture as their primary job, with 72% working 40 hours or more per week on their farms.
Across the state, two out of three growers consider agriculture their primary occupation, with three out of five growers working 40 or more hours per week. Additionally, nearly half of the growers that reported having a successor selected a family member under 29 years old.