On Tuesday February 23rd, we’re asking you to gather with us again at the West Virginia Capitol to speak with legislators about putting these policy issues on their committee’s agendas. The only way that legislators will know how important these food and farm policies are to creating a more resilient food systems, is if you tell them!
SB 390, sponsored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Senator Robert Karnes, provides for bidding preferences for local farm vendors in West Virginia with the goal at least 15% of procurement sourced from West Virginia farm vendors by 2025.
The bill expands preferential bidding in state purchasing to include resident farm vendors, in addition to resident veteran vendors, nonresident vendors who employ 100 or more state residents, and other special groups.
SB 390 is single-referenced to the Senate Government Organization Committee. If you care about this bill, call the Senate Government Organization Committee chairman, Sen. Craig Blair and ask him to put it on the agenda so it can move to the Senate floor for a vote. Senator Blair can be reached at 304-357-7867.
Joey Aloi, with the Kanawha Institution for Social Research and Action (KISRA), wrote an Op-Ed advocating for this bill in the Charleston Gazette-Mail in November.
SB 399, the Farm to Foodbank bill (or as it’s known in the more long-winded Senate, the “Establishing personal and corporate income tax credits for farmers donating edible agricultural products” bill), would provide tax credits for farmers who donate or sell fresh produce to food banks.
Modeled after similar legislation in Kentucky, the bill would serve to incentivize farmers to donate unharvested or unsold produce to food banks.
This type of tax incentive is useful because there are barriers to getting fresh food into foodbanks – most immediately the transport costs that farmers bear to move their produce to centralized food donation sites.
This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Karnes and Senator Miller (the Democratic Agriculture Committee chair in 2014). It’s on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s agenda for 5:00PM on Monday February, 22nd.
The WVFFC and WV Farmers Market Association are working on an additional bill to move forward local industries around home-based processing.
Farmers markets in West Virginia account for an estimated $9 million in direct sales, and are
a healthy source of income for many WV small farmers, as well as a vital part of many WV communities. In some rural communities plagued by food deserts, farmers markets serve as the single avenue to access fresh food. With micro- processing sales opportunities enabling farmers to preserve produce, not only will farmers derive a source of year-round income and eliminate food waste, but consumers can access vegetables throughout the year and we can all “preserve” the culinary art of canning that is vital to West Virginia culture.
SB 434 proposes legislation to put safety protections in place to enable agricultural economic development, allowing canned items to be sold at farmers markets, farm stands, consignment farmers markets, online farmers markets, fairs, and festivals. Because consumer safety is our single largest concern, we are requiring:
• Education/certi cation of the producer, such as attendance at a Better Process Control School
• Inspection of the producer’s facilities
• A food handler’s permit
• e use of approved or tested recipes,
• Registration with the Local Health Department
The Pickle Bill was passed on the Senate floor. It’s been double referenced in the House. It needs to be placed the agendas for the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and Health and Human Resources Committee.