Deer Farming Industry
A market study of the state's cervid farming industry was released to the public in December 2011. The Alliance initiated this study in support of family farm preservation and rural job development. The study, which was prepared by West Virginia University (WVU) Extension, praises the emerging industry's ability to provide income and jobs on small farms. There are 37 registered deer farms in West Virginia averaging 5.5 acres in size.
Cervids are a classification of mammals that includes white tail deer, red deer, elk and other similar species. In the mountain state, white tail deer farming is making gains and according to the study may provide relief to family farms. According to the study, deer farm operations directly employ 46 workers, pay $343,000 in annual wages and purchase $1.86 million from other West Virginia businesses. As a result of these input and payroll expenditures, a total of 66 jobs, $1.44 million in sales, and $1.03 million in gross state product, including nearly $784,000 in labor income were supported in the state's economy.
The industry's continued growth has become dependent upon a legislative change that has stalled in Committees for the past 10 years. Legislation will be coming to vote in 2012 to change oversight of the cervid or deer farming industry from the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Dept. of Agriculture (DAG). DNR's oversight is primarily of wildlife including native white tail deer and hunting programs. AG is responsible for oversight of the food chain including the health and conditions of livestock, butcher operations and health inspections.
Changing oversight opens the doors for the sale of venison food products produced in West Virginia. Venison food products could be farmed, inspected, packaged and sold everywhere - creating a huge potential for additional farm income and job growth.
DAG believes farm raised deer are healthier than animals in wild herds. "The health risks some try to associate with deer farming are off the mark. Captive deer can be tested, monitored, isolated from and treated for disease - unlike their wild counterparts, which are known to carry a variety of diseases that can be passed to captive herds," said Gus R. Douglass, Commissioner of WV Dept. of Agriculture. "The quality of our state's deer enterprises is well-recognized. Of those farms reporting sales, values ranged from less than $2,000 to nearly $80,000. These enterprises added $1.03 million to the gross state product of West Virginia in 2009."
Follow the resource links to find out more about deer farming in West Virginia and to show your support of legislation allowing the sale of venison food products, new income for small farms and new jobs in rural areas of the state.
WVU Market Study:
Contribution of West Virginia's Cervid Farming Industry to the State Economy, 2010-2011
(1.5 MB pdf)
WV Deer Farmers Assn. statement to WV Legislature Judiciary/Agriculture and Agribusiness Joint Committee on Dec. 14, 2011:
Economic Advantages of Cervid Farming
Presentation of WV Market Study by Daniel Eades, Extension Specialist Community, Economic & Workforce Development West Virginia University to WV Legislature Judiciary/Agriculture and Agribusiness Joint Committee on Dec. 14, 2011:
The Contribution of WV Cervid Farming Industry
(1.5 MB PPT)
Deer farmers call for move to Department of Agriculture:
Charleston Daily Mail, Jan 25, 2012
(147 KB pdf)
Senator accelerating deer farm regulation change:
The Register-Herald, Beckley, WV, Jan 25, 2012
(119 KB pdf)
Alliance newsletter article Summer 2011: Mountain State Deer Farming
Information about Chronic Wasting Disease
Wildlife Society Bulletin 2011 Article: The Antler Religion
Send your Petition of Support for the WV Deer Farming Industry to Marcel Fortin
Please let your representatives know your opinion.
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