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Interim Brief: W.Va. Legislative Agriculture, Rural Development committee hears hemp update

By Alex Bunn

WVPA Legislative Reporter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Legislature’s Agriculture and Rural Development interim committee heard an update on agriculture bills passed during the recent 2019 Legislative interim’s meetings.

Seven notable bills were passed, including updates to W.Va. Industrial Hemp Code – HB 2694

Noteworthy agriculture bills passed during 2019 Legislative Session

  • West Virginia Fresh Food Act – HB 2396
  • Updates to W.Va. Industrial Hemp Code – HB 2694
  • Food Freedom Act – SB 285
  • Establishing the WVDA Capital Improvements Fund- SB 323
  • Relating to Commissioner of Agriculture employees – SB 324
  • Protecting right to farm – SB 393
  • Transferring authority to regulate milk – SB 496

During the July 22 interim meeting, Crescent Gallagher, legislative liaison with the W.Va. Department of Agriculture, discussed the process of growing hemp, machinery, staffing, and the testing of hemp with the Agriculture and Rural Development Senate Committee.

Jennifer Greenlief, Deputy Commissioner and Counsel with the WV Department of Agriculture Department presented on “Updating Sections of the Department of Agriculture Code”

Greenbrier County Senator Stephen Baldwin expressed his concerns that testing procedures in W.Va. are unlike those of other states. Baldwin asked Gallagher what could be done to help farmers that have crops that have exceeded the federally allowed amount of 0.3% THC. Another spokesman for the Department of Agriculture assured Senator Baldwin that most samples are compliant and few fail testing.

The W.Va. Fresh Food Act – HB 2396 also passed. This bill ensures that all state-funded institutions must purchase a minimum of five percent of its fresh produce, meat, and poultry products from in-state producers.

Other bills that passed include FFA in all High Schools – SB 329 and State-Owned Farms Code Updates – SB 344.

Other agriculture legislation from 2019:

  • State-Owned Farms Code Updates – SB 344
  • Rural Rehabilitation Loan Program Updates – SB 627
  • FFA in all High Schools – SB 329
  • Auctioneers Code Updates – HB 2982
  • Pollinator License Plate – HB 2846 (Originally HB 2472)
  • Legislative Rules – SB 199
  • State Conservation Committee Grants – SB 657
  • Employee Background Checks Authority – HB 3007

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