West Virginia marks Local Food, Farms Day

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, West Virginia Farmers Market Association and West Virginia Farmers Cooperative got resolutions passed in the House and the Senate to make Feb. 23 Local Food and Farms Day at the Legislature.

Farmers from around the state visited to support the effort and to educate lawmakers about the opportunities to diversify the state’s economy with local foods and innovative crops, said J. Morgan Leach of Vienna, CEO of the state farmers cooperative and executive director of the West Virginia Hemp Industries Association.

Creating a local food supply will not only help to diversify the state’s economy but will increase the access to fresh fruits and vegetables for local markets, Leach said.

“Expanding farm to table operations will have a tremendous effect on the health and wellness of our state,” Leach said.

These organizations are teaming up with local farmers to advocate for legislation this session that would expand the cottage foods industry, the rabbit processing industry and industrial hemp production in West Virginia, Leach said.

For more information on the status of the legislation, visit http://wvfoodandfarm.org/, http://wvfarmers.org/ and https://wvhemp.org/.

Leach was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday meeting with the staffs of Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin to discuss issues that support West Virginia farmers and to seek a vote for the federal Industrial Hemp Farming Act. Leach said he was able to meet briefly with Manchin.