State Policy

2015 Issues

Download the 2015 Legislative Agenda (1.3 mb)

COOPERATIVES LAW

The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition is working with key stakeholders in the Legislature to create and pass a law that will allow businesses to form as Cooperatives.

Businesses across West Virginia are asking the State Legislature to provide more legal flexibility to enable them to structure and incorporate as cooperative businesses. Some of the most successful food hubs in the state hope to organize themselves as cooperatives and are seeking this policy change, including the Wild Ramp in Huntington, the Sustainable Ag Entrepreneurs Program through the Charleston Area Alliance (SARE), and Mountain Peoples Cooperative in Morgantown. For more information, please read the Coalition’s White Paper on Cooperatives in West Virginia.

To get involved in this policy change issue, please email Elizabeth Spellman, Executive Director, at espellman@wvfoodandfarm.org.

FARMERS MARKET PERMITS

After consulting with stakeholders, lawmakers, and agency personnel in the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, The West Virginia Farmers Market Association Policy Working Group identified and recommended two main elements that would be contained in legislation addressing the health permitting issues:

1. Defining a farmers market in code

2. Creating a new health permit type specifically for farmers markets that would be issued on the county level; but will have the option of a statewide endorsement that would be recognized across county lines, carrying with it a higher fee.

For more information or to get involved, contact WV Farmers Market Association Executive Director, Kelly Crane at coordinator@wvfarmers.org.

On-Farm Rabbit Processing

Small farms are seeing success with on-farm poultry processing. Farmers have asked for similar provisions for commercial rabbit production. Rabbit farming has low business startup costs and high profitability.

Currently, rabbits must be slaughtered at an approved slaughterhouse, but no facilities in the state offer services for rabbit processing. Poultry farmers have long enjoyed a federal exemption allowing them to slaughter up to 1,000 birds per year on their farm without an inspector present (the Legislature increased the number to 20,000 in 2014). If rabbit farmers were able to slaughter up to 1,000 rabbits on their farm per year, it would give them enough revenue to scale up their farm operation and expand local food economic opportunity.

The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition asks that legislators support a code change allowing the WV Department of Agriculture to set up a regulatory system for farmers to process rabbits on their farms.

DON’T SEE YOUR LOCAL FOOD ISSUE HERE?

Is there a law you’d like to see changed that would help your food & farm business succeed? We want to hear from you. Please contact us at info@wvfoodandfarm.org.

We provide a platform for local food issues to be represented in the West Virginia Legislature. In the Spring, Working Groups identify issues and attend regular advocacy trainings, allowing support and consensus to build organically. As the year continues, we build and implement a legislative campaign in order to change, create, or dissolve laws that affect the original issue.

By working together, we have the power to change agricultural policy in West Virginia.

By working together, we have the power to change agricultural policy in West Virginia.

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