CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) held a statewide virtual agritourism roundtable Tuesday, February 9, 2021 with key government officials and agritourism producers. Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby and Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch discussed key issues facing the agritourism industry and how to further develop the industry. State Senator Patricia Rucker (R-16) also joined the panel to discuss possible legislative initiatives.
“Tourism is a multi-million-dollar industry in West Virginia, and agritourism is a large part of that,” said Commissioner Leonhardt. “Understanding how our agencies can either provide assistance or get out of the way of these businesses helps move the industry forward. A lot of the problems these businesses are facing are burdensome regulations that need to be examined.”
Established agritourism producers, including Brad Glover of Swilled Dog Cidery, Brad Gritt of Gritt’s Farm and Chatman Neely of Barn With Inn, also sat on the panel to share their experiences in the industry, as well as some of the issues their businesses have faced. The panel discussed ways to tap into highway sign access, establishing an agritourism association and creating unique marketing events to showcase multiple farms at once. Producers also discussed labor issues such as H2A workers, looking at the burden of current regulations and what resources are currently available for businesses.
After the discussion, panelists were eager to continue working together to make impactful changes in support of the agritourism industry.
For the full discussion: WV Grown: Homesteading Webinar Series- Agritourism Topics & Issues Roundtables – YouTube
For more information about West Virginia’s agritourism industry, contact Maggie Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-558-2210.
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.