Walt Helmick, West Virginia's new agriculture commissioner, said he hopes to improve the state’s poultry industry by attracting a processing facility to the southern part of the state.

Speaking to attendees at the West Virginia Small Farm Conference, Helmick said a poultry operation would bring much-needed jobs to the southern part of the state. Fifty-three percent of the food produced in West Virginia is from the poultry industry, he pointed out.

Helmick’s pursuit of a poultry operation is part of a plan he hopes will more than double the output of state farms within five years and encourage young people that they can be successful in the agriculture industry. He also plans to encourage school boards, correctional institutions and other government agencies to buy from local producers, according to the Associated Press.

“We believe there's an opportunity to move agriculture to a level that is much more than it is today,” Helmick said. "We will employ people, we'll create quality jobs and we will grow a quality product for West Virginians."