CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A barbecue at the Governor's Mansion was aimed at beefing up West Virginia's beef industry.
The annual event was held in the courtyard on Tuesday afternoon.
Members of the state's Beef Industry Council presented Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick with cuts of beef for Father's Day.
Also on hand was West Virginia Beef Queen Jennifer Friend, a 17-year-old from Braxton County who is active in 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
Beef was cooked on site, and the governor said he could hardly wait to taste the brisket provided by Flying W Farms of Burlington.
"I always look forward to the annual Father's Day beef feed to bring attention to the farmers in West Virginia and the role they play in our economy," Tomblin said. "Let's support West Virginia farms and farm families throughout the state."
Helmick said the annual event is significant because it draws attention to local farms.
"It's a way to promote the beef industry, which is always under the gun in West Virginia," he said. "Over the last 50 years, we've decreased in the number of beef cows from 700,000 to 360,000. One reason is people could make money by leaving the traditional farm and going into the industrial world."
But he sees hope for future growth.
He said farming is wholesome, hard work that can be profitable as consumers look for healthful ways of eating. He pointed to grass-fed cattle and a product not enhanced with chemicals.
"People are looking for a wholesome product we can raise in West Virginia," he said.
West Virginia's nearly 11,000 beef cattle farmers produced 195,000 head worth more than $140 million in 2011, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.