– West Virginia
Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt spoke to members of the press
Monday, January 8th about his first year in office. He talked
about lessons learned and efforts to improve the West Virginia Department
of Agriculture (WVDA). Leonhardt also told the media about the department’s
vision for agriculture and requests he will be making to the West Virginia
Legislature in 2018.
“We learned a lot
our first year in office. There was a lot issue that needed resolved, but
we feel like we now have the right staff in place to help accomplish the
mission of the department,” said Commissioner Leonhardt. “2017 was about
building a foundation for the future.”
reporters that when he came into office last January, he found a department
on the brink of collapse. In order to turn the department around, Leonhardt
said his administration focused on ridding inefficient practices and called
for audits from the Legislature. From those reports, the department ended
failed programs, sold off unnecessary equipment and improved other
had low morale, financial problems and no direction. No government agency
can run that way and accomplish its mission,” said Leonhardt.
attendees the department will conduct an economic impact study to evaluate
barriers to growth, as well as rising sectors in the agricultural industry.
The data will be used to develop a strategic plan for agriculture in
conjunction with the members of the West Virginia Agriculture Advisory
Board steering committee. Commissioner Leonhardt, Governor Jim Justice and
WVU Extension relaunched this board in July of 2017.
agriculture has a place in West Virginia’s future. It is time we start
taking agribusinesses seriously,” said Leonhardt. “Working with our
partners, we will come up with a cohesive vision and strategy to grow
agriculture in West Virginia.”
To end the press
conference, Commissioner Leonhardt made several requests of the West
Virginia Legislature for the upcoming session. These included: funding for
the WVDA Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture program, a capital
improvement fund to rebuild the WVDA laboratories, structural government
changes to reduce barriers on West Virginia producers and the transfer of
the Division of Forestry to the WVDA.
information or questions, please contact Crescent Gallagher at 304-558-3708