Farm Bureau Calls for Investigation of WV Department of Agriculture Practices
BUCKHANNON, WV. - This morning, West Virginia Farm Bureau has called for an investigation by the West Virginia Legislature of practices and procedures recently undertaken by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
There are several areas of concern that need to be examined. Some deal with the use or misuse of our tax dollars by the WVDA on projects that put them in direct competition with West Virginia agriculture producers.
The most recent example is the purchase by the WVDA of four Angus cows from an Oklahoma producer at a cost of $33,000, and is especially troubling for the following reasons:
1. No opportunity for state producers to bid on the purchase as required by state code
2. Although WVDA defends the purchase by claiming superior quality of the cattle, numerous purebred producers in West Virginia have cattle equal to or better in quality
3. Producing multiple offspring by doing embryo transfers from these four donor cows will have a huge price tag, with no guarantee of success
4. The offspring from the program will be sold in direct competition with our own West Virginia producers
Furthermore, concerns have been raised about WVDA’s potato program, which has spent well over 1.5 million dollars to promote an industry that West Virginia is ill-suited for when compared to states such as Maine, Wisconsin and Idaho.
Many of the potatoes raised on the state’s farm at Huttonsville ended up spoiling and were buried. Others were given away or sold at well-below market prices, undercutting our own producers.
Some producers have questioned if the WVDA is determined to put them out of business.
The primary function of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture as laid out in Chapter 19 of the West Virginia code is to provide regulatory oversight and promote marketing of West Virginia products, not to produce commodities or compete against our own farmers.
The responsible expenditure of tax dollars is a requirement of all state agencies. During a time when our state is facing massive deficits, that obligation is crucial. Agriculture can play a big role in the future of West Virginia’s economy, but our state must have a Department of Agriculture that understands and works for our farmers, and spends its budget wisely.
Representing more than 23,000 members, the West Virginia Farm Bureau was founded in 1919 to provide leadership, education, information, training and economic services to county farm bureaus to enhance the quality of life for its members.