The West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, the West Virginia Farmers Market Association, and the West Virginia Farmers Cooperative will host the 3rd annual Local Food and Farms Day at the Capitol on Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. It will be held in the Upper House Rotunda at the State Capitol with both the press and the public invited. The day will be focused on engaging policymakers and citizens on the opportunities and challenges in developing the local food and agriculture sector in West Virginia.
The three hosting organizations work statewide to build the local food economy by supporting small-scale farmers, farmers markets, and local food businesses so they can best reach West Virginia consumers. An important part of this is advocating for policy that allows for local food enterprises to succeed.
There are three policy priorities this year: The Cottage Foods bill; Rabbit to Restaurant rule; and Surface Owner’s Land Reunion bill.
The Cottage Foods bill would expand the current cottage food law to enable home-based processing of low-acid preserves (i.e.. green beans, ramps, tomatoes) to be sold at venues such as farmers markets.
The Rabbit rule would increase the number of rabbits that can be processed from 1,000 to 5,000 rabbits per year per premise to better allow small farmers to safely and profitably sell to local restaurants.
The Surface Owner’s Land Reunion bill would give landowners the right to first bid on the mineral rights if they are being sold at a public tax sale auction, helping to preserve West Virginia’s farmland.
There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to strengthen West Virginia’s economy and its citizens’ health by developing the local food sector. These are objectives that resonate with people on both sides of the political aisle, and provide an exciting avenue for citizens and legislators to work together toward the common bipartisan goal of growing West Virginia’s local food and agricultural economy.