WVDA, Department of Commerce, Tourism Office to Hold Agritourism Roundtable

KENOVA, W.Va. – Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch and Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby will be hosting an agritourism roundtable with producers from across West Virginia on February 9, 6:00 p.m. at Heritage Farms in Kenova. The event is part of the WVDA’s existing Homesteading Series that connects producers with industry experts on a variety of topics.

“We hope this is an opportunity to establish a good line of communication between our West Virginia producers and the agencies that support them. Our goal is to tap into a niche market to boost our already growing tourism industry. We hope this is a productive conversation for our producers, as well as the agency leaders who will be involved,” said Commissioner Leonhardt.

Producers that will be in attendance are Brad Gritt of Gritts Farm, Chatman Neely of the Barn with Inn and Brooke Glover of Swilled Dog Cidery and Distillery. Other producers who wish to participate will have the opportunity to submit topic areas or questions via a brief survey. In addition, live viewers can submit questions during the conversation.

Established topic areas are the following:

• Availability of existing resources for producers, including highway signs.
• How agritourism impacts the surrounding states and how West Virginia can learn from those models.
• Tax structure and its impact on agritourism, specifically looking at cideries.
• What role the West Virginia Division of Tourism can play for agritourism, especially post COVID-19.

“We want this discussion to be producer-driven so we can really dive into what is preventing our industry from growing. At the same time, we want this to be a tool for our elected officials to make improvements for the industry,” said WVDA Agritourism Specialist Maggie Parsons. “The goal is to pin down any issues our operators are currently facing and what legislative fixes can be pursued.”

For questions or more information, contact Maggie Parsons at mparsons@wvda.us or 304-558-2580.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.