By January 14, 2020 Read More →

W.Va. Department of Agriculture official says state food, biohazard testing labs need repairs

By Crystal Good, West Virginia Press Report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There is an urgent need for repairs at the labs the West Virginia Department of Agriculture uses to test for food contaminants and other biohazards, according to the WVDOA communications director.

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, on Monday, heard an update on the  current state of Guthrie Laboratories from Crescent Gallagher, communications director for WVDOA.

Crescent Gallagher

Gallagher’s presentation gave urgency to the repairs needed at the Guthrie Agricultural Center. Gallagher said the need is urgent as the Department uses the labs to test for food contaminants and other biohazards. The Department is seeking three years of appropriations at $12,600,000 per year or a one-time appropriation of $37,800,000.

Others presenting to the committee included Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch, Division of Forestry Director Barry L. Cook, and Emily Fleming, deputy director for the Department of Natural Resources.

Secretary Gaunch said West Virginia Commerce is responsible for 9 different agencies. He said the agricultural industry can, does and will create industrial opportunities and jobs for West Virginia. Gaunch spoke to the committee in support of the development of the industrial hemp, dairy, poultry, pork and beef industries.

Delegate Daniel Linnville, R – Cabell, asked the Secretary about WiFi at state parks. Secretary Gaunch said he would take the Delegate’s questions and concerns back to the Department.

Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Emily Fleming talks with the committee. WVPA photo

Division of Forestry Director Barry L. Cook spoke on the opportunity for the Yellow Poplar tree species to gain timber certified for construction. He said the certification has the potential to create 150 jobs per plant. Cook referenced the numerous Yellow Poplar products being used around the world.

Delegate Linville asked Cook if there is any concern or connection between the fires in Australia and West Virginia forestry? Cook reminded the committee that good forest management helps in fire situations by reducing fuel levels and improving access to fire areas. Cook expressed confidence in West Virginia’s forest management.

Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Emily Fleming presented the committee with an overview of the DNR and shared the department’s large legislative agenda that includes 10 bills and 12 rules. Some of the bills and rules include: penalties for breaking hunting laws, crossbow terminology, park signage,white water industry rule, boating rule,campground reservation rule, fishing rule and falconry rule.  She states that West Virginia state parks are in need of an endowment fund for updates and repairs. 

Agriculture Chairman Roy Cooper, R-Summers, said that the committee would meet on Mondays at 2 p.m. for the remainder of session.

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