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Commissioner of Agriculture

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  • BOB BEACH
    (Dem)

  • KENT LEONHARDT
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

How will you educate and assist farmers to protect water quality for future farmers and the public?

What do you see in the future for farm tourism and what will your role be?

What do you hope to accomplish as Commissioner of Agriculture?

What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective Commissioner of Agriculture?

As a member of the legislature I have either co-sponsor or voted for legislation protecting our water resources. The WVDA is in fact a regulatory agency first, and must carry out the demands of code. However, we should advocate for farmers to ensure legislation does not hinder their operating ability. We should not be regulating water puddles on the farm.
Agri-tourism as ample room to grow. WVDA must be an advocate. Recent agri-tourism passed by the legislature, which I had co-sponsored does in fact give flexibility to the farmer. However, marketing for this type of operation must be a higher priority within the Department. Less money should be spent on promoting the Department and more spent promoting the agricultural sector.
We must re-establish communication between the Department and our agricultural community. Resources for all, not just for the few. Advocate for all agriculture. Build a regional food supply and processing. Reposition WV as agricultural innovator. Build a plan and work it. Greenhouses in our schools. Grow our dairy farms. Establish a transferable agriculture curriculum, allowing for earned college credit.
54 years of experience from farm to State House. Small scale high tunnel operator. Raised on a large Angus cattle farm in Monongalia County. Trained in food safety/ meat-cutting. Perishable meat commodities buyer, FFA, 4-H. Legislative Committee member on Agriculture, previous Chairman. Southern Legislative Conference, Committee on Agriculture. Previously a member of WVU Davis School of Agriculture Visitation Team.
As the Chair of the State Conservation Committee, we have been working with District Supervisors to expand efforts protecting our farmland. We expanded nutrient management plans, reducing runoff, and increased cooperation with the EPA and organizations such as WV River Coalition. We have taken a voluntary approach and are leading the way in efforts such as the Chesapeake Bay Restoration.
Agritourism must be a part of the future in WV. My administration passed legislation reducing burdens on agritourism operations and works with our commerce and tourism offices to increase opportunities for businesses. We work with our state parks to host farm-to-table dinners, providing new markets for West Virginia producers. We work with our business development team to provide enhanced assistance.
I plan to build on our successes of the last 3.5 years. We have worked hard to provide new economic development opportunities for our farmers and introduce new, cash crops into WV. During this pandemic, we worked with the Governor’s office to keep agriculture moving. We have helped our veterans, first responders, and the new generation of farmers find opportunity.
Aside from the 3.5 years as Commissioner, I have led during peace and war. With the help of my wife, we restored our abandoned farm. I hold a degree in Wildlife Management with courses in agriculture life, animal sciences and ecology. My leadership and first-hand farming help to understand what our agriculture sector needs. I am the most qualified candidate.