Policy Book The Voice of Agriculture in the Mountain State

Bureau Policies

These policies were adopted by the voting delegates of the member county Farm Bureaus at the 101th Annual Meeting of the West Virginia Farm Bureau, held at the Days Hotel Conference Center, Flatwoods, West Virginia, November 14, 2020.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FARM BUREAU POLICY
West Virginia Farm Bureau is a voluntary, non-governmental organization, wholly controlled by its members. Financed by membership dues, it exists to provide a means by which farmers can work together toward the goals upon which they agree.

The policies printed in this booklet were developed through a process involving the participation of individual members in the study, discussion and action on recommendations from within their county Farm Bureaus. These recommendations were then considered by a state Resolutions Committee, made up of representatives from every county Farm Bureau. The recommendations are discussed, amended if deemed appropriate, and then voted on by the elected voting delegates from the member county Farm Bureaus at the Annual Meeting each year.

Policies regarding national and international issues are made in the form of recommendations to the Resolutions Committee and voting delegates to the Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation. These policy recommendations are adopted by a majority vote of the voting delegates from member state Farm Bureaus.

These polices represent West Virginia Farm Bureau’s public policy goals for 2020 and are deemed essential in attaining the long-term goal of better opportunities for farm families.

Farm Bureau Beliefs

America’s unparalleled progress is based on freedom and dignity of the individual, sustained by basic moral and religious concepts.

Economic progress, cultural advancement, ethical and religious principles flourish best where people are free, responsible individuals.

Individual freedom and opportunity must not be sacrificed in a quest for guaranteed security.

We believe in government by legislative and constitutional law, impartially administered, without special privilege.

We believe in the representative form of government – in a republic – as provided in our Constitution; in limitations on government power; in maintenance of equal opportunity; in the right of each individual to freedom of worship and in freedom of speech, press and peaceful assembly.

Individuals have a moral responsibility to help preserve freedom for future generations by participating in public affairs and by helping to elect candidates who share their fundamental beliefs and principles.

People have the right and the responsibility to speak for themselves individually or through organizations of their choice without coercion or government intervention.

Property rights are among the human rights essential to the preservation of individual freedom.

We believe in the right of every person to choose an occupation; to be rewarded according to his/her contribution to society; to save, invest or spend; and to convey his/her property to heirs.

Each person has the responsibility to meet financial obligations incurred.

We believe that legislation and regulations favorable to all sectors of agriculture should be aggressively developed in cooperation with allied groups possessing common goals.

We support the right of private organizations to require membership as a prerequisite for member services.

WVFB Lobbyist Contact Information

Dwayne O'Dell, WVFB Director of Government Affairs


Charles Wilfong, President

Steve Butler, Secretary-Treasurer


Policy Book

  • 1. LEMON LAW AND FARM MACHINERY

    West Virginia Farm Bureau believes the West Virginia “Lemon Law” should be extended to cover farm machinery purchased for use in West Virginia.

  • 2. STATE ENTITY USE OF AG PRODUCTS

    WVFB supports efforts by state schools, institutions, agencies and other entities to purchase and use locally grown and produced agriculture products.

  • 3. CAPTIVE CERVID PROGRAM

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the Captive Cervid Program, provided it is under strict regulatory control with enforcement of all program operations and there is no self-certification by any current or future deer farming operation. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture must provide certified program staff and administrators to carry out the Captive Cervid Program.

  • 4. POULTRY LITTER

    No commercial litter may be transported or spread within one (1) mile of a primary poultry stock breeder site unless the litter meets all four of the following conditions:

    • All litter shall be properly composted or dry stacked at least thirty (30) days
    • All litter shall be tested and certified by the WVDA to be free of salmonella, mycoplasma and avian influenza prior to movement
    • All litter being transported off the premises of origin shall have a certification accompanying the load
    • All litter used for soil amendments must be spread according to best management practices to reduce the chances of a breach in bio-security of other agricultural enterprises

    If this policy is not acceptable to the primary breeder, we recommend the primary breeder pay the difference in cost between commercial fertilizer and litter to the farmers within the restricted area who are incurring extra expense due to this policy.

  • 5. LOOSE ANIMAL STANDARDS

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the development of loose animal standards through the Livestock Care Standards Board and/or the West Virginia Legislature. Additionally, to limit and reduce the liability of loose livestock.

  • 6. NOTIFICATION OF HAZARDOUS MATERIAL SPILL

    In the event of a hazardous material spill by an outside party, property owners/operators shall be notified immediately by the proper authorities (but no longer than 24 hours) of the nature and magnitude of the materials spilled. The landowner/operator should have input in the clean-up procedure. One agency should be responsible to keep the landowner/operator fully informed of all materials and progress of the cleanup and recovery.

    The landowner/operator should have the right to discuss any concerns with ONE designated representative who has the exclusive knowledge and authority to make a lasting decision. WVFB recommends that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) be the agency of contact.

  • 7. FOOD PRODUCTION AND GOOD SCIENCE

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recognizes the need for environmental protection, as well as the need to balance the dietary and economic needs of our citizens. Due to the urgency of needed remediation in many environmental areas, application of good science is often lost in the rush to accomplish an environmental objective. The failure to apply good science, the result of which can be the passage of inadequately considered laws and regulations, has an economically burdensome impact upon agricultural production. Farm Bureau recommends careful consideration of good science and adequate notice prior to enacting laws and regulation affecting agriculture and the costs of producing food products.

  • 8. AGRICULTURAL DRUGS AND CHEMICALS

    We recommend that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture provide collection centers throughout West Virginia to accept unused farm and household chemicals and containers.

    We recommend additional emphasis be placed on improved biological controls or integrated pest management control methods.

    We recommend that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture cooperate with the adjoining State Departments of Agriculture to approve the use of agricultural pesticides to create fair competition for our farmers.

  • 9. FAIR IMPORTS

    In order to protect the health and safety of U.S. citizens and the economic well-being of U.S. farmers, Farm Bureau recommends that any agricultural product imported into this country be produced according to the same rules and regulations currently required of U.S. farmers and companies.

  • 10. SUPPORT OF WV YOUNG FARMERS/VETERANS

    WVFB actively encourages the support of younger farmers and veterans throughout the state and recommends that sufficient resources be made available within the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to facilitate the following:

    • Creation of a low-interest loan program, specifically for younger farmers (35 years of age and younger) and veterans to start and/or expand an agricultural operation in West Virginia
    • Development of a West Virginia Farm Transfer Program, designed to pair those farmers preparing to transition out of agriculture with a younger farmer (35 years of age or younger) or veteran who is interested in purchasing an existing farm to begin or expand an agricultural operation

  • 11. SOIL TESTING PROGRAM

    The soil testing program at West Virginia University is effective and benefits farmers and gardeners. We recommend that the Legislature provide adequate funds for this program, and that WVU maintains adequate laboratory personnel to return soil test results in a timely manner.

  • 12. FUNDING FOR AG ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM

    We recommend the continuation of adequate funding for the WV Ag Enhancement Program, administered by West Virginia Conservation Agency and WV Conservation Districts.

  • 13. WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE LABORATORIES

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the upgrading, rebuilding, modernization, and improvement of access to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture laboratories.

  • 14. PROMOTION OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES & INDUSTRIES

    Farm Bureau recommends that the West Virginia Development Office cooperate with the Department of Agriculture in attracting agricultural processing industries.

    We recognize the right of producers to promote research, sales, and consumption of the commodities they produce.

    We support the continued development and promotion of the WV Grown Program so that West Virginia grown produce should receive priority in state farmers’ markets, tailgate markets, and in purchases by state government.

    Regulations governing custom slaughtering plants, locker plants, producer-slaughterers, dairying, syrup making or any other farm-produced product should be modified so as not to eliminate those local services and to allow face-to-face sales from farmer to consumer with minimum government interference.

    We recommend that producers’ check-off funds not be used for political or legislative lobbying.

  • 15. SUPPORT & ENHANCEMENT OF HORSE INDUSTRY

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports updating the “Horse Industry Impact Study on Economic Development and Tourism in WV” completed in 2005 by WVU.

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the development of private facilities and public facilities to promote equine industry growth with a focus on educational programs, activities and tourism.

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the recognition and classification of horses and other equine as a farm animal and their inclusion in state and national census counts. We also support the classification of the equine industry as an agricultural enterprise.

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends that any equine species be included in the National Animal Identification System.

    WVFB believes support of the horse industry should include providing necessary financial incentives to improve the industry’s economic growth as well as the general farm economy in the geographic area, with enhanced facilities necessary for success.

  • 16. INTERSTATE SHIPMENT OF MEAT

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the interstate shipment of meat with appropriate state inspection.

  • 17. REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF LIVESTOCK, POULTRY AND AQUACULTURE

    Farm profits depend on good animal care; therefore, farmers have an inherent interest in practicing good animal care.

    West Virginia Farm Bureau opposes legislation that would give private organizations or public agencies, other than the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the authority to establish standards for the raising, handling, feeding, housing or transportation of livestock, poultry and fur-bearing animals. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture should have sole authority in establishing these standards for these animals.

  • 18. CREATION OF EXOTIC ANIMAL REGULATION BOARD AND AUTHORITIES

    Through the legislative process, WVDA should be given the authority to regulate the possession and sale of certain exotic species by amending the Animal Regulations Act. These changes, as prescribed by the WVDA, will help protect the health and safety of humans and the state’s agricultural and forestry industries, its wildlife and other natural resource interests from the introduction or spread of disease. This much-needed alteration to the Animal Regulations Act will also support stronger enforcement of the Homeland Security Act pertaining to agro terrorism.

    The creation of an animal regulation board – which would include the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health and the Director of the Division of Natural Resources – should be included in the language of the legislation granting the WVDA the aforementioned powers.

    This board will be authorized to:

    • Take recommendations from a technical advisory committee
    • Seize and quarantine animals when there is probable cause to suspect the animal poses a threat to the health and safety of humans, other animals or certain industries
    • Be a registering agency for pet shops
    • Be a permitting agency for those breeding exotic animals

  • 19. NAMING AND LABELING OF FOOD PRODUCTS

    Misleading advertising is being practiced pertaining to imitation food products. This is especially true for milk, milk products and meat, and causes considerable misunderstanding among consumers.

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends the adoption of regulations providing that ingredients and cultural practices be clearly and correctly identified on labels and in advertising. Labels should also show the country of origin of all imported ingredients.

    WVFB opposes labeling or marketing plant-based products or lab-cultured cells as meat.

    We support the advertising and promotion of milk as a low-fat food.

  • 20. AGROTERRORISM AND BIOTERRORISM

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the actions of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security and other organizations to identify the impact of terrorism on agriculture and supply appropriate funding and manpower to protect the industry.

  • 21. VETERINARY HEALTH ENHANCEMENT ACT

    The number of veterinarians practicing in rural areas continues to decrease. Most veterinarians that do practice in rural areas do not provide services to large animals. West Virginia Farm Bureau believes that the passage of the Veterinary Health Enhancement Act will help prevent a rural veterinarian crisis. We support passage of this bill, which would establish a scholarship program for veterinary students and a student loan repayment program for veterinarians who agree to practice in areas where there are veterinarian shortages, provided that, it is amended to require participants to offer large animal veterinary services. We also recommend that a national tuition relief program be established for veterinary students who agree to enter the food animal and rural veterinary fields.

    Furthermore, we support the large animal veterinarian retention program sponsored by the USDA Veterinary Services.

  • 22. ANIMAL AND PLANT DISEASES

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends that West Virginia University Experiment Station increase investigations and research into the prevention and/or cure of destructive livestock, poultry and plant diseases. Because of the influx of new and current diseases, permit regulations and strict biosecurity procedures should be followed when any research is conducted.

    Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, and Anaplasmosis are diseases common to livestock and humans. We recommend continued efforts to maintain Class FREE status in West Virginia.

    We also urge the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Protection plan for removal and disposal of infected material when a highly infectious disease, such as avian flu, occurs.

    The WV Department of Agriculture has been mandated by the USDA to develop an Animal Disease Traceability program. WV Farm Bureau should collaborate with WVDA to develop a program that will work by involving livestock producers in the development of this program.

    WVFB can be proactive in organizing regional meetings to solicit producer input for development of this state program.

    WVFB should actively support mandatory disease traceability because it will be a defining factor in the export market.

  • 23. CONTROL OF INJURIOUS INSECTS

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends that the State Department of Agriculture, working with other research institutions, devise and use effective controls over Gypsy Moth, Japanese Beetle, Tent Caterpillar, Grasshoppers, Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Long Horned Beetle, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Spotted Lantern Fly and other injurious insects.

    We recommend that all counties of West Virginia infested by Gypsy Moth be included in the Department of Agriculture spraying program, and that all private landowners be provided financial assistance and encouraged to participate in the program.

  • 24. NOXIOUS WEEDS AND PLANTS

    Labor is the biggest expense in eradication. West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends that the state supply the materials and training, and landowners provide the labor to eradicate noxious weeds. It is also recommended that all landowners, both private and public, be encouraged to participate in this process.

    It is further recommended that Chicory (chicorium intybus) and Himalayan Blackberry be added to the list of noxious weeds.

  • 25. CONTROL OF RABIES AND ADMINISTRATION OF VACCINE

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends stricter enforcement of present laws for the control of rabies in wild and domestic animals.

    We recommend that the state give financial aid to farmers who find it necessary to vaccinate livestock due to exposure to rabid animals.

    We further recommend that the law designate the State Health Department as the leading agency to control rabies. The sheriff, conservation officer, county health department and any other agencies appointed by the State Health Department will be responsible for having the collected specimens of suspected rabid animals taken to the health department laboratory for examination.

    In addition, because of the decline in numbers of large animal veterinarians, WVFB recommends that livestock producers have access to purchase the rabies vaccine to inoculate livestock (for example: cattle, sheep, equine, goats

  • 26. LYME DISEASE & WEST NILE VIRUS

    West Virginia Farm Bureau recommends that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, West Virginia Division of Health, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia University Extension Service, and public health agencies provide educational information about prevention and treatment of Lyme disease and West Nile virus as well as provide annual notification by county of outbreaks and detection.

  • 27. USE OF TRAPS

    West Virginia Farm Bureau opposes legislation that would restrict the utilization of steel traps and snares in the control of predatory animals, year-round, or prohibit the landowner from harvesting fur-bearing animals in season.

  • 28. WEST VIRGINIA DOG LAW

    Unrestrained domestic and hunting dogs can be a nuisance and a source of property damage for farmers, and many urban families.

    West Virginia Farm Bureau generally supports the present Dog Law, but believes the law needs to be more strictly enforced.

    We recommend the Dog Law be amended as follows:

    • County commissions shall pay all claims for livestock and poultry losses that exceed the dog fund. Excess money would be paid from the general revenue fund
    • A leash law be put into effect for the period of February 1 to May 30 of each year during which time dogs must be restrained unless accompanied and controlled by their owners
    • Agriculture or livestock dogs should be exempt from leash law ordinances provided they are actively herding or guarding livestock or performing other farm-related activities
    • All animal shelters must scan dogs for microchips prior to adoption or euthanizing. County commissions shall provide scanners to each shelter

  • 29. RIGHT TO FARM ORDINANCE

    One of the greatest assets of West Virginia is the vast farmland and timberland. The aesthetically appealing landscape has attracted many new residents. Increasingly, many new residents are not accustomed to agriculture management practices. On occasion, these residents have objected to, and in some cases, initiated lawsuits against the management practices responsible for the pristine landscape that attracted them to the area. Therefore, West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the State of West Virginia and any county that wishes to have a Right to Farm Ordinance, which shall:

    • Create a legal presumption that agriculture management practices are not a nuisance and are an expected part of the quiet enjoyment of property
    • Protect agriculture from nuisance lawsuits and or/complaints against generally accepted management practices
    • Exempt agriculture from noise ordinances, light ordinances, dilapidated building ordinances, and other nuisance ordinances
    • Establish a disclosure provision whereby the seller or his/her agent and the county clerk are required to notify potential buyers of the property of this right to farm ordinance
    • Exempt agriculture from zoning restrictions and other regulatory tools that may interfere with generally accepted agriculture management practices

  • 30. SUPPORT FOR AGRICULTURE/AGRIBUSINESS PROTECTION

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the agriculture/agribusiness protection act to address criminal trespass of agriculture property.

  • 31. PROTECTING THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF AGRICULTURAL LIVESTOCK

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports the establishment of a livestock committee in each county to handle complaints of inhumane livestock treatment. The committee will be appointed by the county commission from recognized farmers within the county.

    When, during the course of an investigation, the county humane officer (CHO) finds livestock in dire condition, he/she will contact a licensed veterinarian for further examination. Upon the veterinarian’s opinion that the animal(s) are at imminent risk, the CHO will immediately notify the county commission of the situation. Further action by the CHO will occur only at the direction of the county commission and the county livestock committee.

    To further protect livestock in a safe and humane way, harassment of these animals should not be tolerated at any level. Repeat offenders should be considered felons and jail time should be implemented.

  • 32. TIMBER THEFT AND SUBSEQUENT COSTS

    West Virginia Farm Bureau believes that expenses incurred from timber theft or trespass should include but not be limited to fence repair or replacement cost; total survey costs; attorney fees and court costs and replacement cost of timber (3x value of timber in question).

  • 33. AQUACULTURE IN WEST VIRGINIA

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports aquaculture as agriculture. We support the development of legislation that provides authority for regulation and administration of aquaculture by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. We further support the development of rules and the creation by the WVDA of the position of Aquaculture Coordinator, whose responsibility it will be to chair a statewide task force to develop an Aquaculture Development Act.

  • 34. CBD HEMP

    West Virginia Farm Bureau supports standardized Federal regulations for hemp and encourages and supports the WV Hemp Industry.

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