Randy Yohe Published

Budget Boost Requested On Food And Farm Day At Capitol

Several plates of berries and mini-muffins
Several plates of berries and mini-muffins
Bryce Smith/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For Food and Farm Day at the Capitol, the emphasis was on West Virginia farmers getting legislative help to better market their produce and products.

Two annual regular session activities coincided in the Capitol rotunda Tuesday. Along with the farmers, the popular Preston County High School culinary class was flipping their spatulas. Their annual pancake breakfast saw Delegates, Senators and anyone else filling the plates and going for more syrup. The student chefs served until they ran out, which they always do quickly. 

According to the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, agriculture is actually growing in the mountain state. They say farmers are encountering more opportunities every day to help them stay in business. The coalition also helps food entrepreneurs reach new markets. 

Coalition Executive Director Spencer Moss said she would like to see a legislative line item put into the budget. They are asking for money to permanently sustain and help draw down a million dollars of USDA money, to support the SNAP Stretch program.

“What we’re able to do is double and triple SNAP EBT dollars at farmer’s markets, mobile markets,and local grocery stores,” Moss said. “If you come in with your SNAP EBT cards and want to spend $10, you’re also going to get 10 SNAP Stretch dollars that can be spent on fruits and vegetables. Since the program’s inception in 2018, we’ve put $3 million into the local food economy for an economic impact of just shy of $5 million.”

Moss said the biggest challenge for West Virginia farmers is battling the geography and the topography of West Virginia to access markets and sell their goods.