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Beef farms an opportunity for growth in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Beef. It's what's for lunch at the West Virginia governor's mansion Tuesday.

It's also an area where Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick says there's plenty of room for growth.

Federal statistics show West Virginia's 11,000 cattle farmers produced more than $140 million worth of beef in 2011.

Helmick calls beef a cornerstone of the agricultural economy.

West Virginians consume more than $7 billion in food each year, he says, but state farms produce less than half a billion's worth. Helmick aims to more than double the output of state farms within five years by growing the poultry and beef industries.

To help draw attention to the potential, the Beef Industry Council and Flying WV Farms of Burlington are serving an early Father's Day lunch to Helmick and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.